So it’s the first time in six days I have the house to myself, and I feel compelled to talk about NANOWRIMO. I finished–but it was a hard finish. An “I counted my blog tour posts and the fiction from my personal blog” finish–but at the same time, I’m still really proud of it.
We started out this month on a trip to Disneyland that we planned a year ago–there were days that week I just couldn’t write. Not even a little. And to make matters worse–for me anyway–part of my NANO was FINISHING A BOOK. I know I’m not the only writer who cleans up their administrative work in that lull between finishing one book and starting another.
And then there were the three edits.
And the blog tour–may I mention that the only way I could do the blog tour and NANO was to make that do double duty?
Because, yes, this last week, when normally I would have been doubling down on my writing, I was cleaning the damned house and getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner–and then nursing my foot which pretty much gave a big “OH fuck THIS!” at around two p.m. Thursday, leaving Mate to do a lot of the heavy lifting. (He forgave me because I’d been up until 3 a.m. the night before and had gotten up at 8 that morning, just to time the food right. Too much time in the cold without shoes will fuck up your fasciitis and that is the truth.)
So it was a tough NANO, but I made my goal in new writing at least 50K, and I did finish the book I was working on when I started–and I made a healthy start on a new one as well.
It left me wondering why that little badge was so important–why it was absolutely necessary to EARN that damn sweatshirt that I already preordered (because if you wait until you actually finish the damned event, all the specialty sizes are gone.) I mean, I write 50K in a normal month–it’s not like I’m a big fraud who screams NANOWRIMO and then pretends to write when I’m watching porn. Why is it so important for me to have won that badge fair and square one more year?
And maybe it comes down to this.
When people ask me what my education is, I say, “I have the equivalent of a Master’s degree.” And while it’s true that I didn’t finish the program, the following is also true:
When I was awarded my BA in English, I had–and this is a true thing, although they might have changed the rules now–too many units to get a BA. I was short 3 credits in a humanities class, and if I’d taken that class, I would have just needed to press on through to get a MA without a BA, I shit you not my college evaluator said this with a straight face. They had to take a graduate course I’d taken in English (nobody was sure how I was even let into this course but I got a B+) and give me credit for a humanities course, which just goes to show you that taking a class in sci-fi and fantasy can never steer you wrong
I’ve taken 18 units in Shakespeare. Well, three of those units was Renaissance Lit, but yes, there was a lot of fucking Shakespeare.
By the time I was done with my teaching credential, I had a BA + 53 units. A MA is usually only a BA + 30.
By the time I dropped out of the MA program, I had a BA + 73 units. (Just 2 units short of a raise, because ain’t that always the fuckin’ way?)
The final project for my MA would have been to finish a full length work. I’ve done that somewhere around 80 times. 90 maybe? God, between big books that have been broken up and novellas that have been combined, it’s almost impossible to count. But yes, I have completed the final MA requirement many times over.
All of this, and yet, I have no MA degree.
Explaining this in detail during regular conversation, A. Makes me sound pompous as hell, B. Also makes me bitter, and C. Also makes me boring.
So, I say “I have the equivalent of…”
Because it’s shorter, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s true.
But I can’t put MA on a book jacket or a bio. When Crafting Category Romance: Fiction Haiku comes out next year, it’s going to look like I’m some rando who declared myself an expert on something that better minds really do have a handle on.
So as far as writing kudos for myself, NANOWRIMO must absolutely, positively, be real. When I say I “won NANO” I absolutely have to write 50K + in the allotted time.
Because so much about my pedigree is… less than. I jumped the wrong hoops at the wrong times and won the consolation prize of degrees. I taught for 18 years… and I didn’t retire, the administration dragged me out by the hair and left me on the side of the road. I am in so many ways an “also ran” that I refuse to declare a win unless it’s a real goddamned win.
So this NANO was a real goddamned win. It probably would have been a real goddamned win if I’d only just finished the stupid book and then moved on to my admin tasks and blog tour without counting words, but I was going to count the goddamned words. It’s a little like being a writer in the first place. I have to do something–something real, something tangible, something that has the power to either generate income or enhance the income I’m generating, every fucking day, or I might as well clean the house and sew all my kids’ clothes by hand and join the PTA. (I have never, ever, on either side of the fence, been inclined to join the PTA. One meeting is enough. *shudder*)
Also, I managed to win NANO and my kids still loved me enough to come to Thanksgiving and watch movies and eat fattening food. I even collected an extra, and I made enough German cabbage that T copped a ride from his sister today to come finish it off. (He tried to make some for his friends-giving, but that had a tragic end. I had to hug him just from his disappointment.)
So I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving–and a Happy Nano. It’s weird the things we celebrate, and the bars we set for ourselves. It’s just nice sometimes to be able to declare a win.