National Novel Writing Month was something I had vaguely heard about. It was so vague that all I knew was that it was some sort of speed writing thing where insane people decided to write a book in a ridiculously small amount of time. My brain could not conceive of such a thing so it just didn’t take it in.
National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo, has been my life, my lover and my all-consuming passion for the past 19 days now. Somehow, this summer it all just…clicked. I wanted to write a new novel — really badly. BUUUT…I was still revising one that took me 5 years to write (68K+ words). I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. Who needed a new novel when I could slave over my old one. That was August. Fast-forward to mid-October and I start getting the emails from NaNoWriMo. It’s gearing up! I don’t really look into it because I lost my username and password! Too lazy to get it out I didn’t bother. A storm was coming and the news kept telling those on the East Coast to prepare. (Yeah, yeah. It’ll be a big blow over. Just watch. — infamous last words…)
SuperStorm Sandy hit on Monday, October 29th. The City of New York turned off the MTA so there was no way to feasibly get to work. New York shut down the schools. There was no feasible childcare options when everyone was home. So, after baking, cooking, playing Monopoly and hoarding food — not necessarily in that order — I decided to hunt and find my keys to the Golden Ticket of the NaNo experience.
On the 31st of October, I finally was forced (maybe shoved is a better word) to write an outline for the novel that had been brewing in my head since the summer. It took me about 2 hours but I got it down. I felt ready to start. Oh, I managed to find my password and username. Then, the race began at midnight Thursday, November 1st, 2012. I had 30 days to write 50,000 words. That’s 1,667 words average per day. Nuts!
Week 1 was wonderful, exhilarating.
Week 2 was okay, not so exciting because I realized I was EXHAUSTED. Writing that many words felt like pouring out my brain matter onto the keys and having to do it every DAY felt like sheer lunacy.
By the end of Week 2 I had a breakdown of sorts. I felt all kinds of crazy, stupid and incompetent. I thought my life was done. My job was done. I was just a hopeless mess and that I had no right to lead/help anybody or anything because I was such a failure. Yeah, pretty extreme.
At first, I thought I was just having a really bad day but then as it got time to go home I didn’t leave work. I stayed really late. I then didn’t go home. I wandered around the City. It finally dawned on me I was avoiding writing. See, by doing this little itty bitty challenge of writing consistently every day and meeting a goal, I was challenging every demon that every lived inside the four walls in my mind. Those demons were going apeshit…and I was letting them win.
A very good friend of mine talked me down and helped me to see the garbage and the demons for what they were. So, while I only got down about 495 words that night I WON.
This past weekend I did a 4-hour writing stint and got back on track because, of course, I had fallen behind steadily all through last week.
Week 3 — Dunno. Just embarked upon it. It feels good. It feels like a car that has broken into the last lap and has been around the track a few times and it knows what to expect. Just look to your right and you’ll see my current word count. I’m on track! 🙂
I’ve never written a novel under these conditions. This is only the second novel that I WILL have completed. So, the feel of the story, the rightness of the story are still new things to me. I’m getting on my novelist sea-legs. Right now, I still have to take ‘Dramamine’ to get through the ride (read COFFEE lots of it) but hopefully soon, I won’t need the stimulus of coffee to keep words flowing onto the screen.
Kudos to the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit behind the NaNoWriMo experience. I want to thank them for making this possible for 299,999 other writers like me to experience a rekindling of their craft. They even have a challenge for Young Writers! They are truly awesome.
So, if you’ve stuck with me this far please take a moment to donate even $1 to the Office of Letters and Light to help keep them going so they can help keep writers all over the world going.
Ta-ta for now,