The AugNoWriMo was successful, and though it did not have the same exciting “first-timer’s” crunch that the July experience did, it was nonetheless a wonderful experience. A HOL acquaintance, who will remain nameless, disparaged the July challenge in favor of the August one. Rather rude considering I was excited about the July challenge which had only just begun when I mentioned my ‘newbie’ participation in the HOL chat-room. This is an irritating hazard about ‘online-arms and armor’ when worn and used by folks with little or no communication skills and lousy effective filters. They say shit that is dispiriting and simply boorish.

I can only imagine the thinking process behind the pronouncement, “Oh, this guy is trying his hand at a NoWriMo. He seems excited. It’s his first time. I’m excited too! I remember my first time. I’m excited about the August challenge. I have a computer. I am online. I’m in a forum. I can use emoticons. I plan to write for the August challenge. It’s better than the July challenge because that’s the one I’m in and so is my friend ‘X’. We have done it before. I’m a veteran. I know a lot. I’m going to tell him what I know and declare that I know it to all my chat-room peeps. They will be impressed.”

The basis for this judgment may have had to do with a few of AugNoWriMo’s unique features.  Rather than a mandatory 50k, writer’s can set their own word-count goal. Almost anything is acceptable from five to 100K or more. AugNoWriMo writers may also work on multiple manuscripts as long as the final work count matches their declared goal. Should things take a turn for the worse, the goal can be re-evaluated and changed, up or down, in increments of five K. The AugNoWriMo also offers a unique publication option in its compendium of short stories, Milestones, for those interested in seeing their work in print. All in all, it’s a good set up and run by some enthusiastic mods. I look forward to receiving my reward certificate via email sometime in the near future.

The certificates are worthless in the sense that they mean little save to those who participated and met their goals. For me they are an important symbol of my accomplishment, level of commitment and discipline. I purchased my trophy coffee cup, a tradition I started with the JulyNoWriMo and plan to continue. I ended up designing my own as there was no Café Press store link posted on the AugNoWriMo’s site. More important than certificates and coffee mugs however, I came away from this experience with long-term rewards and signs of achievement: knowledge.

I learned that the 50K+ of the JulyNoWriMo was not just a fluke or the happy result of a lucky month. I can, with discipline, sustain a viable and productive writing practice every day (so far).

I learned that I can make my, ‘2K a day’ word goal despite working full time, at least with a vacation’s head start to get my momentum going.

I learned that my golden hour, discovered when school started, is from 04:00 to 05:30 when I have to put up the pen and get ready for work. This truly was an epiphany-like discovery for me. Before work, I can crank out up to 1,600+ words in that 90 minute period. The same amount of time at the opposite end of the day, 16:00 to 17:30, results in less than 700 words. I believe this is due to two factors. One, if I have “prepositioned,” (Thank you, Heather Sellers!) before bed, crashed around 21:00 and got about seven hours of sleep the night before, I’m fresh. My mind is unclogged, and after a sip of coffee or two, the words flow like water. Two, I know that in 90 minutes, I MUST put the pen down or I’m going to be late for school and I need that hour of prep before my students arrive for class. This keeps me focused and productive.

Thus, while the JulyNoWriMo helped me to an understanding that I can write a single 50k manuscript in a month, the AugustNoWriMo helped me realize I can sustain it for more than a month and  do this while working full time.

I suspect that every time I take on such a challenge, I will learn something new about my practice and the craft of writing.

I am tracking my progress during the month of September without the incentive of a NoWriMo to encourage me. I will finish the first draft of The Kevodran during this month and will have to augment my word count with blogging, background development, HOL extra-credit and letter writing.

Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.