I did it.
For the first time in ten years, I won NaNoWriMo again.
The last two years, I didn't bother trying. Each year, I had a full time job. One demanded that I put in ten hours of overtime a week. The other...we won't talk about what I was doing this time last year. If I'd tried to write a novel at that point, I shudder to think what would have come out.
Before that, there were a series of reasons I didn't get a win. The biggest being, I'd already proven myself. Multiple times. I didn't have to, and I had other projects to work on.
I came close in 2011. I was working on the prequel to Elemental, and I was in love with the story and the characters. (I still am. The Arcane Wars will be coming out in 2019.) I wrote on my phone, I wrote during down time at work. I wrote instead of sleeping. The problem was, we were moving from one apartment to another where my boyfriend (now husband) had just gotten a new job. We spent the entire month of November packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking, and wrangling an increasingly sullen pre-teen.
We were finally moved in on the 30th, and we'd unpacked enough that I took a day to desperately catch up. I was so far behind that I knew it was impossible, but I gave it my all. I wrote 10,061 words that day, and it is immortalized on my NaNo profile as my wordiest day. I save every rough draft. And, opening the NaNo 2011 folder, I find that at the end of that attempt, midnight struck while I was at only 43,993 words. I missed that win by 6,007 words. It was a valiant attempt, and a loss I am proud of.
I started participating back in 2003. I've been a member of NaNoWriMo for fifteen years.
This year was only my fifth win.
But, each year taught me something. I've learned that I have the story in me. I've learned that I can meet a deadline and achieve a goal without optimal circumstances. I've learned that sometimes life just conspires against you and there's literally nothing you can do.
Most of all, I've learned that the story is the most important thing. It's not winning or losing an arbitrary challenge, where writing 500,000 words of garbage is as valid as 50,000 words of genius. Every year people "win" by typing the same word over and over again, 50,000 times, to tell us that we are fools for even trying. But, they don't matter. What does matter is what you, personally, got from the experience.
I got another book, and I got myself back on track and focused again.
That's all that's important to me.
(Oh, and a few discounts from NaNoWriMo sponsors that aren't available to people who didn't win. So, well, bonus!)