Here we are: the last day of November. For hundreds of thousands of people around the globe, that means the last day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Some are sleeping in this morning because they’ve reached their goal of 50,000 words in a new novel. Some are typing “The End” with a smile on their faces. Many have uploaded their manuscripts and are holding their breath as they wait for the word count validator to confirm them as winners. Many are frantically typing on their keyboards while anxiously eyeing slowly increasing word counts. And finally, there are those who are doing other things because there is no way they are going to reach 50,000 words before midnight tonight, so why try?
For the first time in my seven-year NaNoWriMo history, I’m in the last category. Come midnight, I will not be in the winners’ circle. My word count bar won’t turn purple and proclaim “WINNER!” in large, friendly letters. I won’t print off an artistic winner’s certificate or post on my blog a winsome winner’s widgit.
But you know what? I’m okay with that.
All right, I admit I’m having a little trouble with that. I like to accomplish goals, but I’m learning to let go. I do have a legitimate excuse this year; I spent a day in the hospital and haven’t been well for almost the entire month. Still, my perfectionistic tendencies make me think, “I spent a lot of time reclining in my chair when I could have been writing.”
The truth is that I was reclining in my chair because I was too weak and exhausted to sit in front of my computer. Even if I had felt well all November, I must recognize that winning NaNoWriMo isn’t as important as a whole lot of other things that happened this month. Things like holding my new little grandson and catching some of his first smiles, or having a real conversation on the phone with my two-year-old grandson, or returning my four-year-old grandson’s first entirely voluntary hug, or hearing my seven-year-old grandson tell me he’s glad I’m feeling better, or watching my eleven-year-old grandson ham it up for the camera. These are just within the last week! And related only to grandkids. I won’t embarrass my adult children by recalling the many exciting things about their lives and the wonderful ways they’ve interacted with me this past month.
If I think it through, I realize that I haven’t cheated myself of enjoyment or failed to accomplish something crucial. I may not have ended a novel, but I did begin what’s feels like an excellent and important one. My official status as “winner” may be null, but I did pour some lovely words into a novel void.
I really am okay with that.