Saturday, November 1, 2014

Off to NaNoWriMo

Happy National Novel Writing Month. If you are like me, and are participating in NaNoWriMo, the reason you are reading this instead of working on your daily writing goal of 1,700 words is... well, self-explanatory.

This is my third consecutive year doing NaNo. I started my second novel Further Adventures of Sissy Van Dyke during the first year and finished it during the second year. This year I'm going to try to complete Even More Adventures of Sissy Van Dyke in a single year. That's the plan anyway.

I have always loved freewriting. Just throwing my pen to the page and my thoughts to the wind and letting the words flow and flow. This is the sort of writing that NaNo encourages. In fact, it's the only kind of writing you can reasonably expect to do when you're writing 50,000 words in a month. They're not all publishable words, but they're hopefully seeds of good ideas from which you can grow a novel, short story, or at least a few decent bon mots that you can put into a character's mouth.

I'm amazed every year when so many people bail on the project before the end of the month. I watch them writing away, all eagerness from November 1st to about the 15th. Then they hit the wall. I hit the wall, too. Why, because the wall is there. It is an invisible wall constructed firmly on the foundation that writing is hard, and lonely, and possibly a stupid waste of time because who do I think I am? I'm no Toni Morrison. I'm no Jane Wagner. I'll never make a living as a writer, because no one will buy my books, because everyone hates my writing, especially me.

So, that's the wall, and some of the graffiti that's scrawled on mine. The difference for me and the other writers who "Win" NaNo is that we hit it, fall down, get up, then keep limping our wordcounts forward. I finally end up catching up and reaching my goal with the help of a couple of marathon writing sessions and many cups of strong coffee. The ones who keep going after hitting the wall just go back to their wonderful lives, far away from the self-imposed hell of trying to write a novel, with the promise of "next year."

Are the writers who finish smug? A little, yes. Are the ones who quit ashamed. Probably not, because writing is hard, they have busy lives, and one day they will sit down and write that novel, but today is just not that day. "I said next year, damn it."

That said, here's a video from one of my favorite writers, David Rakoff. Now, get to work, bitches.

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