Last night, at around 5:00 p.m. or so, I typed "The End", verified my word count (50,079), and gave in to a few tears. A little later, Neal cracked a bottle of bubbly (Martinelli's sparkling cider...not so big on the champagne around here) and set off some fireworks in the back yard. It was a good way to celebrate the all-consuming 29 days of writing (well, I skipped two days. Twenty-seven days of writing).
The discipline of NaNoWriMo has, I hope, served me well. I was able to get a character who had been hanging around since February on to the page. I discovered that even with only half an hour to write, I can bang out close to 1,000 words if I really, really want to.
More importantly, though, I rediscovered the fun of writing. The adventure of it. I loved my MFA program, but since graduating, my own work has seemed burdensome to me. I have felt so serious about the novel I call my "serious" novel (hmmm...wonder why), and I have feared that the writing in that novel has suffered because of my own sense of gravity about it. I'm ready to return to it (not for a week or two. I need to attend to such things as house cleaning and short story submissions), and I want to write the next draft just like I wrote my NaNoWriMo draft: fast and dirty. No more fussing about every word. Not for this draft.
I feel like NaNoWriMo has given me back the gift that I learned to hone while out in New Mexico. And that renewed joy in writing makes me feel like a champion. Going forward, I'll have this bracelet on my wrist and a commitment to one thing: exuberant imperfection.
Congratulations to all my fellow winners. Believe me: if you tried, you are a winner, no matter what your word count.