Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo's Last Breath

Today is the last day of 2011's NaNoWriMo. Let's see how it all has turned out, with the understanding that there are still about 16 hours left for things to change.

My 2nd period, who had a word count goal of 60,000 (30 kids x 2k words each) topped out yesterday at 62,058 words with threats from some of bringing more today. (Their class doesn't meet today.) Way to go, kids!

My 4th period came in just short of their 38,000 goal (19 kids x 2k words each) with 35,932 words. Remember, there's still 16 hours left for them to come bursting into my classroom waving sheets of scribbled words and numbers, yelling out their total word count. They aren't too very short. One kid could make it happen for them.

Each student that succeeded in hitting their goal is invited to the Thursday Dec 1 afternoon pizza party NaNoWriMo Celebration! (Wow that's a long name for a party.)

I would like to brag and celebrate my own personal success of winning MY first NaNoWriMo YWP, passing my 25k goal with 26,733 and counting! Woot for me!

My afterschool WriMos trudged in with sad faces yesterday. They were falling far short of their goals, but, I am proud to say, they were still writing. There was one that usually comes later, however. (She's in spelling bee practice the first half after school.) Word in the halls was that this sweet girl with a modest 12k goal, had over 20,000 words in hand. She arrived, and it was true. She had over 170%! Oh, how we celebrated.

Then, I went to validate her words, and she stopped me.
"No, Mister! Don't do it."

I was startled, and tried to explain that I was validating her win, so she would have her little purple Winner bar.

"No, I don't want to do that. I didn't finish the story. I'm only half way done, and there's no way I'll finish it in time. I'm not a winner yet, and I hold to that decision."

How can I not respect such integrity? I searched the FAQs but could find nothing on what to do if you hit (or explode) your word count, but aren't done with the story at the end of the month. For now, she remains unvalidated... but she's a winner in my book.


Update: My wife went and found some information and emailed me to have something to help sway the girl, since she couldn't comment from work. The email is below.

From the FAQs, The Basics, "How do you win?":

"You win NaNoWriMo by writing to your word-count goal by midnight on November 30."

Writing to your word-count goal. Not finishing your novel.

Also, in the CreateSpace talks:

"... you will receive a redemption password when you reach your word-count goal and become an official NaNoWriMo 2011 winner."

When you reach your goal. Not when you finish your book.

I'd say it's pretty clear!

So during my off period, I pulled her out of class and presented this information to her. After assuring her that she could (and should) finish the work and pursue publishing in the spring, she confirmed that she did want to validate now. So we quickly grabbed a computer and got her validated. I am so very proud of her, and excited about the future of her story.

Then, when I got home, I had the following email from the Office of Letters and Light. I think Tim said it quite well.

Hi there,

Wow, she has real grit to go with her drive, it sounds like; that's fantastic. Our official position is basically that, if she hits her word count goal, we consider her a winner. We also encourage young writers to continue writing their novels, and to edit them in later months. I'm going to link a FAQ about it here:

This is also our official position on how to win:

I hope this helps! Thank you for writing in, and please let your student know that we are incredibly proud of her accomplishment, and that she deserves to celebrate!

Tim Kim
Office Captain
The Office of Letters and Light


  1. It's been a while! Congrats on finishing Nano and major kudos on encouraging your students to do it too!! I think that's awesome. And FYI, I "won" too even though my rough draft wasn't done. :D

  2. Thanks, Lisa! Yes, it has been a while. School has kept me quite busy. Congrats for winning!