I've discussed my progress with Nanowrimo this past November. I expressed my delight in actually accomplishing my goal. I still have far to go. Very far, as I sobered up instantly when I looked over my draft for the first time this evening. Some of it is good. Some of it is trite and sophomoric. Or at least, I think so. I still haven't finished finished it - meaning, the last chapter is outlined but not written. And I don't feel it is nearly the capsule of literary merit that I teach.
But I did it. And I took a student along with me for the ride. I had many students who took great joy in writing their word counts up on my board. Only one set out to beat me at my own game. Yes, I was competing against myself as well as G.W. She matched me, week for week, for the first three. Thanksgiving nearly ruined her chances, whereas I didn't travel to visit family and had a rather insistent husband cheering me on (many props to the hubs!).
By the end, we would spend a solid quarter hour in class just discussing our progress; ignoring the other students as I encouraged her to keep up, even to beat me to the finish line; expressing our frustration at not knowing what to write next. G.W. wrote a series of short stories. I wrote a novel.
G.W. beat me to the prize, though I won the word count race. For those of you who are new to the idea, one way to reward those who struggle and become 'winners' - meaning, you obtain your word count goal (reminder: anyone over the age of 18 is required to strive for 50,000), a sister company offers to mail you 5 copies of your book for free. It takes a great deal of work to format, get approval for, and submit your novel. But G.W. had the time to do this and I did not.
The bell rang to dismiss the students at the end of the day. G.W. came up to me and handed me a copy of her book. A collection of 31 short stories. It is beautiful. It is bound with cover art and a very fitting title, Ephemera. And I nearly cried when I saw that she had dedicated it to me. I cannot express how touched I am that with everything going on in her life, with AP classes and college application and extracurricular activities, she found the drive to complete this work, this testament to her own accomplishment, and she chose to honor me. I still tear up when I think about it; I am as I type this.
Her book is what caused me to revisit my own. I promised her a copy of mine. I cannot let her down. I cannot let Steve down. I need to finish this - need to, now. Research papers, essays, projects will be there. I need to do this for G.W. Oh, and I wouldn't let her leave today without at least adding her signature to the book. I have a G.W. original now, and it will forever hold a place of honor on my shelves.