NaNoWriMo 2021 Reflections

Writing this manuscript for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2021 was one of the most challenging writing tasks I’ve undertaken yet. It was the most amount of writing I’ve done in the shortest amount of time and I’m still reeling from everything that was dredged up from it.

Like the setting of my book, stirring up all of the backstory for this manuscript was a lot like dropping an anchor in a pond. Each time the anchor is brought to the surface, it brings with it a mess of tangled weeds, pond muck, and various debris with it. The best way to clear the anchor is to bounce it up and down just under the surface of the water, cleaning off the anchor and clouding the water at the same time. It wasn’t lost on me that I was doing this metaphorically with each chapter I wrote. MS:SOS is a story I have wanted to write based on my years as a young adult for a very long time. Writing this draft, while the characters are completely fictional, caused me to examine all sorts of things from my past. I thought about the friends I had, the relationships I was involved in, the music I listened to, the home I did most of my growing up in, and the place of life I was in during those tender teenage years. In many ways I loved discovering things about myself I had forgotten from that time or memories of my time with a certain friend or floating in my canoe on the pond filled me with joy. Conversely, these memories also brought up trauma from the past that was hard to sift through and lots of emotions connected to my life before my parent’s disastrous divorce and everything related to those years. I had to sit with all of those emotions, fight for a clear vision in the pond water or sometimes just wait for it to clear on its’ own, before I was able to move forward with a character or a scene. In the end, I was so emotionally exhausted that finishing the draft was a relief. I won’t go back to look at the story for awhile, because I need that time and space to let the pond settle once again. When it does, I know I’ll be able to look at the story and write it as the author I am separated from the youth I once was that inspired the story.

Finishing this challenge is incredibly momentous for me because it marks the moment where every story on my story list that I wanted to write, is now a complete draft. Even writing that line makes me stop and catch my breath. I’ve had the eight manuscripts I knew I wanted to draft on a list for the past few years and I also knew that MS:SOS was going to be the last one I wrote, for all of the reasons listed above, before diving into any new ideas. These eight manuscripts have been my Work In Progress (WIPs) for so long and finally marking them all as complete in some form or another feels incredible. I plan on taking some time this week to sit and let that amount of work, time from my family, determination, and each accomplishment that led to the next goal and accomplishment over these past four or so years to really sink in. I don’t want to miss out on appreciating this moment, because it’s a big one. This moment is the moment before I launch into the next phase of this whole journey and will forever be the work I had to do before where I end up next. It’s no small thing to realize that the next part of my dream is only possible because of this first part of the dream that I’ve just accomplished.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

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