Everything I did this month is a miracle. The fact that I sat down at this keyboard and wrote almost 42,000 words that didn’t exist before in only 30 days is nothing less than magic. I didn’t need to do it. I didn’t have to. There is no prize. No great ceremonies that will be held. No pomp or circumstance outside of the few tada emojis I might use when I tweet my final word count. No one is gonna hand me a trophy for what I did this month, or make a speech about how important it was.
But it was good. It was fun. It was hard. It was therapy. It was pain. It was a balm to the soul as I experienced tremendous loss, and a reason to keep having hope even as the world seems to fall down around me. It was inspiring to watch as people shared their own stories. People making their first 50K ever. People getting even a few words down on a bad day. Watching people put aside their pains and sorrows to breathe life into new stories.
This month was magic, as is every November.
I didn’t win anything this month, but I grew. I changed. I discovered new things about a story that’s been in my head for fourteen years. I wrote new scenes that take place in my hometown and did away with what up until now, had been an integral part of the story. I chopped characters and created new ones. I wrote hands being held and tears being shed and helped my character learn to believe in herself a little bit more.
I learned to believe in myself a little bit more, too.
This month I had non-writing days. Days where as much as I wanted to write, I said no, and chose my own mental health first. I had record-breaking sprints and insane word count days. And I had days where all I did was eat peppermint stick ice cream and watch back to back episodes of the Great British Bake Off. I scrolled twitter for inspiration rather than writing. I put away social media to write and just focus. I did so much and I did nothing at all. This month, I think I learned balance.
No one can say that I did not try. A small piece of me (a piece of me rooted in years of self-deprecation and unkindness towards myself) feels like I failed somehow because there will be no purple circle on my NaNo page to indicate a win for this year. I won’t be validated by NaNoWriMo’s website. I will break my winning streak and reset back to zero.
The rest of me knows I triumphed. I watched a loved one leave the world, and still put to paper so many words. I made new friends and spent treasured times with old ones. I watched people run joyously across the proverbial finish line and saw as friends laid down their pens so they could make it through the day long enough to pick it up again tomorrow. I even finally put my depression away long enough to get to the post office and deliver the last of my Kickstarter perks.
And just on the 28th, I got my first direct deposit payment from IngramSpark for Unraveling Light. My first payment for my first published book.
It was only $12, but I tell you what, it was the proudest I’ve ever been of $12 I earned in my entire fucking life.
Unchecked amounts of caffeine. Thirty days. Seven hundred and twenty hours. Forty-three thousand minutes. One half finished third draft of a story that’s been in my heart for half my life. One sense of self-worth that is a bit stronger than it was on Halloween.
And this. One last word sprint that I guess is now a blog post.
As I said, there are no prizes. But there are no losses either. Only progress. Only lessons. Only the joy of knowing I survived another month, and that tomorrow, that journey continues. This book is still unfinished. So much of my life remains unwritten.
Still, there is work to do. Words await. And after this NaNoWriMo, I’m just a little bit more ready to keep writing them. I wrote a poem this month separate from my WIP that contained the line, “She wasn’t perfect, but she was a person…”
And while that line was written about someone else, today, it was about me.
Just a person. Just a story. One that isn’t perfect, but one that is anyway.