National Novel Writing Month and I are in Splitsville, the outs, we’ve sold the house and gone our separate ways, we’re footloose and fancy free, we’re at D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In the first week of the annual event of literary frenzy, I’ve plowed under nearly 11,000 words on my new project, a terrific jump-start that will serve me well in the coming months as I lurch toward the first-draft finish line. And I’ll always be thankful for NaNoWriMo for launching my debut novel, 600 Hours of Edward, in 2008. Further, I plan to write on every available day for the remainder of November, just like the thousands of people who are having a monthlong love affair with their keyboards. (After November and all the hoopla pass, I’ll still be writing daily. It’s what I do.)

So it’s not that I’ve taken up with another lover. It’s that it’s no longer useful for me to meet the demands of this particular lover (specifically, her insatiable need for words — at least 50,000 of them by the end of the month). This project of mine will require more contemplation than that, and the chains will be moved in more peripatetic (I love the word “peripatetic”) bunches — 500 words here, 247 there, 3,000 or so on the occasional all-day dash. I’ll reach 50,000 words in due time, and beyond that, I think, will lie the end of the first draft.

See, something happened between NaNoWriMo 2008 and NaNoWriMo 2009: I wrote a second novel. Principal writing took me about three months. Rewriting and revising took me a couple of months after that. I enjoyed that pace. It worked for me. And now I realize that given the choice between the mad dash and the purposeful march, I’ll take the latter. Every time.

Make no mistake: I’ll finish the project I started for this year’s NaNoWriMo. But it will be on my terms, not hers. NaNoWriMo, this year and probably in years to come, is a project starter for me now, not a means of filling a quota.

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