I successfully reached the fifty-thousand-word goal for National Novel Writing Month. More importantly, I trudged past that line and completed the novel. It is a skeleton but the bones are solid. I will now distance myself from it and leave it on the cyber shelf for a month or two.
When I go at it again, I will be looking to tighten up some places and expand on others, as well as ensure that the story flows. Continuity issues often get caught during the second run. The third run will be for technical aspects of grammar and word choice. The fourth run is usually an auditory listen. It’s amazing the mistakes you hear, errors that your eyes have flown past. Then my amazing husband focusses solely on the story. After that he edits for grammar. I take it back for a final go-through. So it’s a long way from being a novel that moves from my eyes to anyone else’s except my husband’s…and even he doesn’t see it until it’s in decent shape.
Still, I spewed out a novel in a month. Not a shabby achievement. I’ve done it before. Would I do it again? No. This time it consumed me. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about it. I was lying awake plotting. It haunted my sleep, when I managed to get some. Invitations felt like intrusions. Actually going out into the world was stressful. How would I get my words down?
As I get older, the one thing that is becoming abundantly clear is life is finite. And, unlike NaNo, we don’t know the finish line. On December first I asked myself, if November were to be my last month on this planet, would I feel as though I had lived it fully? Definitely not. I was anxious the entire time. I ignored friends and missed out on social occasions. I neglected my puppies and my husband. I was absent in my own life.
I love writing. I love that I have a shiny new story. But I love my life more. The beauty is that I don’t have to give up one to have the other. I just need to slow the pace down so that life doesn’t slide by me while I’m engaged in a fictional world. I will live a few hours each day in the pages of my imagination, but from here on in, I will readily step out into the real world and relish every vibrant flesh-and-blood person and every single moment.