I can't decide whether this counts as a reasonable decision or a cop-out, so I'll let you decide. Counting today (Thanksgiving) there are five days left in NaNoWriMo and I have just passed the 40,000 word limit. 2,000 words each day (approx. five more chapters) would make me a winner. However, when I look at the book in progress, I see a real problem in continuing to hammer out chapters at this point.
When I stopped writing this morning I had put the finishing touches on Chapter 15, which I had envisioned as the mid-point of the novel. And it was a gut-wrenching chapter, painfully difficult for me to write and undoubtedly difficult for some readers to read, because it involves a painfully slow and agonizing death. (Can I say that without giving the plot away? I guess so.) Everything comes crashing to a halt with that chapter.
When the next one opens, it will involve the main characters picking up the pieces and discovering how much each of their lives is now going to change. Not one of them will be able to move blithely on without dealing with that death.
The next chapter also starts a new year and, in fact, a new decade of rapid and somewhat mind-boggling developments -- technological growth, social change, three more amendments to the constitution, a world war, an influenza pandemic, political struggles over prohibition and women's suffrage, the Russian Revolution, and even a total eclipse of the sun. And that is not a period of history with which I am totally familiar. It will involve much intese research.
So I have said to myself, "Self, you are not ready to move on from here. This grand tale needs to marinate for a while. When you are ready to tell the rest of the story, you will know it. But this is not the moment.
Where did the idea come from that everyone had to write 50,000 words in the month of November? I have long argued that 50,000 words is not long enough to call the product "a book." A novella, perhaps, or a "good start," but for this story, stopping at 50,000 words would leave me paddling frantically against a current with no destination yet in sight.
When I registered for this year's marathon, I answered the question of "how many words do you plan to write?" with the expected "50,000. "But why? Why not 40,000? So I'm changing the rules. My goal was to write 50,000 words or tell the first half of this story, whichever came first. I'm through. I've told the story, and now there are other responsibilities calling to me, the most important of which is a new book launch coming up in five weeks.
Sue me. Tell me I'm a failure. Put down your cheerleading pompoms. And let's move on, shall we?