No prizes at all

At the beginning of the month, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. If you reach that goal, they deem you a “winner,” and I really wanted to be a winner. I was confident too, so much that I upped the ante and set a personal goal of 60,000 words.

I was doing well (I could taste the victory!) and then a yucky virus and Thanksgiving hit me with a one-two punch, and just like that, my hope of making it to the 60,000 mark was completely obliterated. Soon after, I gave up on making it to 50,000, too. But on Sunday — the November 30 deadline — Dylan convinced me to make one more push, even though I still needed 2,300 words to get there.

He told me how important it was to finish what I had started, and even better, he told me he believed I could do it.

By late evening, fueled by his confidence, I had pulled within 500 words of that milestone, and I decided to give the laptop a rest and spend some time with my family. I knew that I could easily write the remaining words once everyone was snug in bed.

To say I was excited would be an understatement. Fifty thousand words, for me, was affirmation that I was capable of finishing. If I could write that many words, surely I could push on to the end. And I was almost there! Five hundred measly little words, and then I could set my sights on the finish.

When I told Dylan goodnight, he said “Are you going to make it?”

“I am going to make it,” I said.

He had shared in my excitement the whole month.

He smiled, and maybe I’m wrong, but it looked like he was a little bit proud of me. My heart was bursting.

Then I went to Alyssa’s room.

Every night, I lay down with her for a few minutes and we talk about our day.

But this night I asked her if it was okay, just this once, if I went and wrote my last 500 words so I could reach that big 50,000-word goal since the deadline was midnight and I really, really wanted to be sure I didn’t miss it.

Me: I’m going to go finish my last 500 words so I can get to 50,000 and win NaNoWriMo. Is that okay?

Alyssa: Okay. So you’ll be finished with the book?

Me: No, the story won’t be finished, but I will meet my 50,000 word goal for November.

Alyssa: But you won’t be finished?

Me: No, I won’t be finished. But it’s 50,000 words. That’s, like, two hundred pages.

Alyssa: Huh. What do you get for winning?

Me: A picture that says I’m a winner.

Alyssa: That’s all?

Me: No, I get to say I won. I get to say I wrote 50,000 words.

Alyssa: Do you get a certificate?

Me: Maybe.

Alyssa: Will they mail you a prize? Like a new printer? A new printer would be a good prize.

Me: No. They won’t mail me a prize.

Alyssa: Oh. No prizes at all?

Me: Not really, but I get a great sense of accomplishment for having reached a goal of 50,000 words.

Alyssa: But you’re still not finished.

Me: [teeth clenched] No, I am not finished. But I wrote two-hundred pages. TWO-HUNDRED PAGES!!

Alyssa: You’re sure there aren’t any prizes?

Me: No. No prizes.

Alyssa: [raises eyebrows, shrugs shoulders] Ohhhh-kay. Go finish your words.

There are two types of encouragement: the kind that makes you feel warm and happy and invincible, and the kind that makes you want to do something to spite the person giving it.

At my house, I get both.

For the record, I got a picture AND a certificate to go with the satisfaction of WRITING FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS.

But a new printer would’ve been nice, too.


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