As has been my norm for more years than I’m even aware, I am currently participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I love NaNo. I love writing. In spite of the fact that November tends to be one of my busiest months of the whole year, I seem to thrive on adding the job of writing 50,000 words in 30 days!
I started National Novel Writing Month November of 2017 excited and ready to go. I had my story. I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Way back when I was a teenager, I read my Bible through from Genesis to Exodus in a year for the first time. When I got to Judges 19, my mouth dropped and I asked every Bible reader I knew if s/he knew THAT story was in the Bible! I was horrified! I couldn’t believe that a story about men wanting to rape another man but gang-raping a woman all night to the point of death and then her husband cut her up into 12 pieces to send to the 12 tribes of Israel was a story in the Bible!
Seriously?! What was even more surprising was the number of Bible readers I talked to either had no idea that story was in the Bible and/or none of them wanted to talk about it with me.
I was intrigued. This horror story has been on my mind for more than 30 years. Every time I read my Bible and I get to Judges 19, I’m still wondering why this story is in the Bible. I have read every concordance and Bible reference book and website and so on about this story. Not one reference work has ever sufficiently explained WHY this particular story is in the Bible. Many of them valiantly attempt to explain the WHY, but none explain it sufficiently for me.
Every so often over the years, I have attempted to write this story in modern language from a modern perspective. I probably have as many starts to this story as my current age. I have never been able to get this story out of my head. It haunts me.
So this year as I was preparing for NaNo, I decided that I was finally going to write this story that had been hounding me for so long. As soon as I decided on that topic, I had that place of “knowing” that writers (creative people) get when they KNOW they have hit on a great idea. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone else agrees. The point is that the creator KNOWS s/he has found his/her Muse.
I decided that I would modernize the story and call it The Deacon and His 2nd-Best Wife. I love my title, by the way. 🙂 I added in details to the beginning of the story where it is slightly ambiguous regarding the concubine’s role as well as whether or not she actually left him because she had an affair or got angry with her husband. It all depends on which translation you read, so I felt that I had credibility in taking a bit of poetic license with the first part of the story.
Early in the writing, I struggled with getting started, but once I got started, the story flew out of my fingers onto the keyboard and on the screen in front of me. Because NaNo is all about getting words on the page and not about editing, I wrote my little heart out.
It is currently November 20. There are 10 days to go in NaNo. And I’m finished.
I am nowhere near the 50,000 words. But the story itself is finished. I’m even going to have to delete a large portion of the story where I overdid it when I go back and revise. But as far as writing the whole story goes, it’s finished. I managed to squeak out 30,000 words (or just under that), but that’s because I included with my word count many of the other writings I’ve done for other activities throughout the month.
The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If a NaNo participant wants to “win” NaNo, s/he must validate a Word document with 50,000 words. That will get the participant the rights to wear a Winner’s t-shirt as well as a really cool certificate to declare him/herself a NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner, and the rights to some really cool stuff by NaNo sponsors.
My NaNo dilemma is that I don’t want to keep writing just to get to 50,000 words. The story that I started writing on November 1 is finished. I feel as if I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do for NaNoWriMo 2017: I wrote the story of Judges 19 in my own words with a modern twist, focusing on the rape a whole lot more than in the original story.
I have “won” because I have written my whole story.
But according to NaNo’s guidelines, I have 20,000 words to go in order to truly win.
But I don’t want to write anymore because I have already finished my story. I simply don’t feel a need to continue writing specifically for NaNo to get to 50,000 words to win according to their standards. For my purpose and my NaNo 2017 goal, I’ve won already.
What do you think?
Would you keep writing to get to 50,000 words just to win at NaNoWriMo or would you stop writing specifically for NaNo (quit worrying about word count, etc.) and begin the “What now?” process?
I’d love to hear your answers.