50,058 Words: Writer hits 30-day goal, winds up with fifth unfinished manuscript

Published on Sunday, 1 December 2013 21:58 - Written by VANESSA PEARSON vpearson@tylerpaper.com

Four out of five ain’t bad, especially when it leaves you with about 240,000 words you didn’t have committed to paper before.

On Saturday, in the latest I’ve pushed a victory, I validated my 50,058-word manuscript — a woman seeks the truth about her mother’s disappearance — on the National Novel Writing Month website.

So now I have another unfinished manuscript on my hands. One of my resolutions needs to be “Finish at least one manuscript.”

I have attempted this lofty goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days five times now and completed it four. (I did not finish last year, although I did get about 22,000 words written of my fictional first lady’s post-White House tell-all written.)

The parameters of NaNoWriMo are simple: During the 30 days of November, write 50,000 words. It’s an honor system, so if you typed “a” or “I” 50,000 times, you could be a winner, too, but what kind of accomplishment would that really be?

I did it. My characters have done way too much shrugging and nodding, which I will have to edit in the next draft, and their dialogue lacks differentiation, which I will have to rewrite the next time my manuscript and I get together.

I wasn’t alone here in the newsroom either. Web content producer Pavla Chandler also hit the 50,000-word goal.

In East Texas, one of the newspaper’s readers, Dana Adams, who sent me an email early in the month, finished, as well as several of my friends, including Paul Anderson, Mervyn Hart and Mike Lantz, who works for the federal courts and is our region’s municipal liaison (which means he brings doughnuts to the write-ins he scheduled).

In the Longview/Tyler region, writers wrote 3,607,022 words, according to the tracker on the NaNoWriMo website.

So what were the winning lines of my book?

“‘Mother.’ I walked closer and picked up her hand. It was small and thin, frail even. Cool to the touch. The opposite of how I remembered it. I pressed my cheek to it. ‘I’m here now, Mother. I’m here.’”

 

THINGS I LEARNED

My running playlist is a perfect word-sprint soundtrack: Word sprints are time limits you give yourself (or do in a group), such as writing for 30 minutes as fast as you can. It’s not always pretty, but I can pound out about 900 words in 30 minutes with my running playlist, which includes a lot of fast-paced tunes from Madonna, ZZ Top, Psy and The Black Keys.

I like venison chili: I drove out to a write-in in Rusk County with some fellow NaNoWriMo writers, and our fabulous hostess, Gywn Weatherford, made chili. I was three spoons in when they told me it was deer. I shrugged and kept shoveling. It was delicious.

Don’t trust Google Maps if you’re going into the country: I had never been to Rusk County before, so I had to get directions to Gywn’s. Of course, I used Google, but the maps left me about 8 miles short of my final destination. Apparently, the website doesn’t like Farm-to-Market roads.

It’s OK to skip a day if you have to: I had to miss a couple days of writing when I went to Dallas to cover the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the cold I had the day after.