My Greatest Competition


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Almost a month ago, a set out to write 50,000 words as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s a daunting challenge and not just because I’ve failed to reach my goal four years in a row. I have never written such a long piece of fiction in such a short period of time. It’s also intimidating because every year, I have to face the specter of my previous attempts. In a way, I’m competing with the four other versions of me who have embarked on this voyage of literary abandon.

November was a crazy month for me. Between family commitments, holidays and some long days at work, I’ve been extremely busy. Like most writers with some semblance of a social life and a full-time job that isn’t writing a novel, writing becomes harder and harder to squeeze in. Writing time is often cut back in favor of other activities, chores, sleep etc.

So, the week leading into Thanksgiving, I took a look at my word count and realized that there was no way I was going to reach my 50,000-word goal this year. Instead, I looked at my stats for the last four years. In 2011, a few short months after launching this blog, I wrote 15,621 words. In 2012, just 6,217. In 2013, I wrote 12,100. Last year, I cranked out 22,615 words. I decided that If I wasn’t going to crack 50K, I at least wanted to beat my personal best. I set a goal of reaching 30,000 words by the closing hours of November 30.

Sadly, I didn’t make 30K either. But I don’t view it as a complete failure. Over the course of 30 days, I wrote a grand total of 28,521 words — that equals 127 pages of very usable material going forward. And that’s what counts. If you take NaNoWriMo seriously, you don’t just write for those 30 wild days. You use it to form a foundation for your writing from December 1 to October 31. I think I accomplished that. I wrote 12 short story drafts during the last month. With edits and polishing, I think my collection stands a chance of getting published.

If that isn’t a victory, then at least I beat myself. And that’s oddly satisfying.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. He just finished a month during which he attempted to write a complete novel. You can find him on Twitter.

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