I did it! I just won National Novel Writing Month – 50,000 words in…wait for it…only 29 days!

Excuse me while I go dance on air.

Numbers are in and validated at:

winner 2013

 

Thanks to everyone who helped me get there!!!

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Well, here it is. The end of one glorious year and the start of another. Since lists seem to be the “in” thing these days, I’ve compiled a fun list of events (focused on perks) of 2012 and what I’m planning resolutions-wise and event-wise in 2013.

2012

  • Steampunk-themed contra dance party with fantastic costumes, goggles c/o la boyfriend (now of nearly 2 years)
  • Vacation to Seattle to visit cousins and play tourist
  • Finding out Dad had prostate cancer, supporting him from far away, and then having an “Adios, Cancer!” party when we found out he was cancer-free (44 radiation treatments later)
  • Incredible women’s climbing weekend in West Virginia
  • Interesting, if amusing, debates followed by re-election of President Obama (phew!)
  • Friends-filled college “reunion” going-away party
  • Vacation and travel through Peru, catching 15K heights and Machu Picchu
  • Maryland Renaissance Festival and dress-up
  • Started second novel
  • Joined/helped form an independent author’s collective/publishing imprint
  • Sent over 30 letters to Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • Spent first holiday with boyfriend’s family

2013

Resolutions:

  • Eat breakfast every morning
  • Spend 1 hour before work writing and/or editing
  • Meditate twice a day
  • Still arrive at work at sane hour
  • Make more home-cooked meals (cheaper and healthier!)

Events to Look Forward To:

  • Time-travel-themed contra dance party with boyfriend (yay more dress-up)
  • Parents visiting DC
  • Seeing more old college friends
  • First time going to Las Vegas (conference)
  • Seattle visit with cousins
  • Saturday classes for project management
  • possible Hunger Games food/watching event
  • I turn 25 (woo rental cars!)
  • Attending brother’s wedding in Hawai’i as bridesmaid
  • <Possibilities!>

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope it’s a nice day filled with warm times and your crazy family all coming together.

I write this with a confused and sinking heart, but it’s something I need to do. I have decided not to continue to push to 50,000 words by November 30. I’m barely at 18,000 words now, and life has conspired such that making up the word count I need to “win” is near impossible. One of my friends, Anna, who I met last year through NaNoWriMo, said to me in early November, or possibly late October, that I could win without getting to 50,000. That sometimes, the effort is the winning, whether you get a purple bar and certificate or not.

Let me be clear that I am not giving up on my novel. I’m much more excited about this idea, and where the characters are taking themselves, than I was about my first novel attempt last year. I have two more write-ins I’m hosting, and I will stick to those. And I will write. But I will not make it to 50,000 words by November 30 midnight. Aside from the fact that I took a (fantastic) vacation, then took two more days to “get back” from vacation to spend with my boyfriend and watch Lincoln and relax, I am also going after another certification for work, which I need to hardcore study for. And of course, there is Thanksgiving. I am home, and will be home for the next several days, and I need that, too.

Here is what I’m thankful for. I am thankful for having both of my brothers in the same house. I am thankful for my sisters-in-law, my niece playing with princess dresses one day and lizards and insect toys the next, for my expected niece in March. For my parents, both back in good health and together. For a job as I watch others lose them. For listening to Girlyman and Hawaiian music on Pandora. For most of the rest of my family arriving shortly for a plentiful Thanksgiving feast. For my boyfriend, who continues to put up with my ups and downs and calls me just because. For my friends, all around the world, who provide more love and support than they know. For my experiences and new friends made in Peru. For the view outside my parents’ house. For Brie cheese and Moscato. For two dogs and a frog. For the glowing woodstove, for drinking around it catching up on random pieces of life. I am thankful for being able to tell people “I’m a writer” and not feeling awkward about it. I am a writer. And this novel I’m working on? Someday I’m going to publish it.

I came from an event last night honoring retailers who went above and beyond to support our veterans. I know, random. My star of a father co-owns and edits a retailer magazine that is jumping up the charts in the business. Everyone knows him; we could hardly get across the room without 5 people stopping him, saying to me, “Your father is a great man. He has done so much for this industry, this business, [my product], etc.” To be fair, I thought the event/award was going to be about some stores giving away free food and picking up the tab on some grocery bills, but it was so much more than that. It was sponsoring trips for WWII vets to visit the WWII Memorial in DC. It was baking thousands of cookies for troops overseas. It was the man who started an organization that gives $30,000 in education scholarships to every child of a Marine killed in the line of duty. Millions of dollars in donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Care – Afghanistan, sending soccer balls to kids in Afghanistan and Iraq, to kids who “didn’t start anything. They just want to be kids.”

It was an incredible night, far more than I thought it would be. I sat with a US Marine Corps Colonel who looked like James Bond (and who, care of my dad, introduced himself to me as “Bond. James Bond.”) who has been serving for over 25 years. I sat with a just-retired Lance Corporal who lost three limbs because of an IED (who happened to remind me of Prince Harry), and is making the most of it, working with prosthetic legs, determined to work with wildlife or land so he can still be outdoors.

I got back to my apartment, where I found out that one of the men I met and frequently spoke to during my internship with the National Park Service had died. He didn’t always get a great rep from the press but he was always laughing and joking with me, and frequently had me into his office to talk or give advice, or bought me and the other few interns lunch in the cafeteria. He was a great man. And he committed suicide. I won’t go into the particulars of why – and we’ll never know, truly – but does it matter?

We take life for granted. The incredible servicemen I met last night, the men and women I never will, Bill, they have all struggled. Some got lucky, many will not. Life is too short. Tonight gave me the highs and lows of the harsh reality. Make the most of it. Go get your dreams. I know I am going to try.

Boyfriend is not moving to North Carolina. Stupid North Carolina did not like his certification. After all this. When he first told me, I was so angry. They’d offered. He’d accepted. How are teachers supposed to be able to move, switch around, find a job if there is no certificate reciprocity? He is an incredible teacher. Their loss.

The past few days have been intensely up and down. I don’t actually feel like writing about it all now. I need to process for a little. But wanted to give an update to all those amazing people who reached out to me lately. After some drama and poorly-picked words, we’re still together. A little tentative, I think, but happy.

I was the one who’d said maybe this isn’t working, maybe we need to see other people. And then we talked, and I don’t think either of us could let go. But that is, possibly, a post for another day. I’m tired. I actually have a day off. I might stay in my PJs and watch movies all day. I might get my hair re-dyed. I don’t know.

 

Love.

This is a shout-out post. Thanks for all the support: family, friends, strangers. It really means a lot. Some may think it goes unnoticed but I assure you it does not. Thanks to my brothers for talking about everything from Dad and family stuff to the latest computer games. Thanks to my mom who is home taking care of everyone but herself. Thanks to my cousins, who have been through this to a degree and offer love and hugs from around the country. Thanks to my boyfriend for putting up with me and my sometimes immobile self, for skipping our dancing ritual just because I can’t go (even though you don’t need to bring a partner and he could go himself), for getting me roses and chocolate and strawberries for my birthday. To my friends who exemplify the “friend in need is a friend indeed” idea, for taking midnight phone calls. To my coworkers who listen to me and nod and keep my spirits up. To my boss for concern and email checkups to see how I am doing, how my dad is doing. To the random followers I’ve accumulated through WordPress and Twitter.

Sometimes, it can be easy to forget. You’re so wrapped up in your own world, and it can get dark and lonely there. You want to talk to everyone as much as you want to shut everyone off. But there is a lot of love in this world, despite daily news headlines. Thanks for the support, even if I can’t always acknowledge or understand it right away. It’s the little things. It always is. So thanks.