It's done. I finished my NaNoWriMo novel last evening. I now have two novels under my belt.
You might think I'd be feeling celebratory this morning (or last night), but no. What I feel is a sense of accomplishment and relief that it's over. It's a good thing I got as much of the novel written earlier in the month as I did. This last week it's been difficult for me to focus on writing. My mind is already moved on to Christmas.
Last year I finished my novel on Thanksgiving morning. That allowed me to spend the rest of the holiday weekend doing the Christmas shopping and decorating stuff that I love. This year I wasn't quite finished by Thanksgiving and I think both the novel and my launch into the Christmas season got cheated. The lesson learned here is that if I participate in the NaNoWriMo competition again I should definitely try to pick up the pace of the writing to finish on or before Thanksgiving (even allowing for funerals if necessary).
Other lessons learned: Last year I used family stories as the basis for my novel which provided me with characters and situations to write about. But my imagination and creativity were restrained as a result. This year I didn't use any family stories but still incorporated my family members creating personalities and challenges of my own design. It was much more fun to write and more challenging too.
Last year I participated in the NaNoWriMo message boards, listened to the NaNoWriMo podcasts, and went to local NaNoWriMo group meetings. This year I did none of that. I did reread No Plot, No Problem the NaNoWriMo guide book written by Chris Baty the founder of NaNoWriMo. It was a big help. I'll want to remember that for next time.
Last year I started out with a solid multi-page outline of my story and plot. It was too much and didn't allow for enough spontaneity. This year I started out with weeks of historical research which was way too much. Had I done a little plot planning to begin with I could have scaled down my historical research time quite a bit. Note for next year: plot/timeline first, research second.
When I finished last year's competition I knew right away that I wanted to do it again. This year I don't have the same feeling. Which is not to say I won't write another novel but I don't have the burning desire at this moment. I am anxious to reread my novel and start editing it. I'm hoping some of my family members will read it over the Christmas holiday and give me some feedback. As Ernest Hemmingway said, "The first draft of anything is shit". I'm not expecting gushing reviews but I'm hoping it won't put readers to sleep ;-)
NaNoWriMo was a wonderful experience for me once again. I strongly recommend it to everyone of any age. You'll really stretch yourself and discover things about yourself you didn't know. It is quite an endeavor but like any major project it becomes doable if you take it a step at a time. You'll be amazed at what you can write!
I want to take a moment here to thank Kimberly Powell, Susan Kitchens, and Lee Anders for their help with the Carnival of Genealogy. I know how much time it takes to put together an edition of the carnival. You guys are the best. Also I want to thank Randy, Steve, and Lee for the supportive comments they've given me along the way. Your words meant a lot to me. Thanks!