Last year my husband encouraged me to participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I believe he wanted me to write that novel I’m always talking about and then shut the hell up about it. But, since our baby was just six weeks old at the beginning of November and any attempts at writing would have wound up at best incoherent and at worst with my keyboard stuck to my face, I decided not to participate.
The idea has been fermenting in my brain for a year now, and since the good people at NaNoWriMo also want me (and everybody else) to write that novel and shut up about it, I’ve decided to give it a go. The goal, as stated on the NaNoWriMo website is “to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th.” People who hit the 50,000 word mark receive a winner’s certificate and web badge.
As I rifled through the NaNoWriMo website, reading their suggestions on how to be successful, I was struck by their explicit instruction not to edit. “It would be SO hard to write and not edit,” I thought to myself. NaNoWriMo understands. This is what they say on the subject:
Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.
Not only can I not argue with that, I love that. Basically what they’re saying is, “yeah we’ve heard your excuses why you’re not finished with your novel, now get off your ass and do the work.”
So I will. I will do the work. I will see where imperfection takes me. I do not think I will be a winner. Taking care of a 13 month old is easier than taking care of a six-week old – well maybe not easier, but challenging in different ways. I’m in no danger of falling asleep at my keyboard, but still, free time is at a premium. It’s not like I can tell her to go play on her own while Mommy sits at the computer. At least half of what little time I have now is used to keep up with the annoyances of every day life (cleaning, bills, laundry, house maintenance.) I know the point of NaNoWriMo is to let some of that stuff go and focus on writing, to finally take the time to do the fun, creative and enriching things that always get pushed aside. So I’ll try but I’m not optimistic that I’ll be able, physically or mentally, to focus long enough and write quick enough to output 50,000 words in the time that I have.
Speaking of housekeeping, there are a few issues surrounding NaNoWriMo that I have to figure out before I start. First of all, which novel will I write? The one that will be the best one but is lacking in plot and direction, or the short story that has those things and which I think I can stretch into a novel? Currently I’m leaning towards option B. Since you’re reading this on November 1st, I hope I have that question answered.
“Why are you burdening us with this information when you’re supposed to be writing a novel?”, you might be thinking. Glad you asked. My other concern about abandoning civilization in November was leaving this forum blank for a month. Sure I’ve done it before, but I’m serious in my endeavor to keep up with the postings here. So I’m stockpiling blogs so that I’ll be able to continue posting in November. I wrote this well ahead of time as well as the next several blogs you will see. After everything is said and done and December rolls around, I’ll update my progress, word count and what it was like. Maybe I’ll even add novelist to the “about me” section. Maybe not.