Breaking news: I have made a last-minute decision to participate in NaNoWriMo.
What is this NaNoWriMo you speak of, you ask? Why, November is National Novel Writing Month. Beginning at midnight, as soon as I’m off work and stepping through my front door, I will embark on a grand and lonely quest to write 50,000 words within the next 30 days. Do the math, and that means I should pump out 1,667 words a day if I wish to stay on top of things.
But it need not be lonely. Like a magician opening his coat and doves flying from his sleeves, I send out my invitation to the great cloud of witnesses that is the internet, to join me in this noble endeavor.
NaNoWriMo, I find, is overwhelmingly attended by novice writers more than professionals. It strikes me more as amateurs patting each other on the back and fueling their delusions of talent and self-grandeur, while the end product is meant for its own end of satisfaction. I hear they’ll publish your book free, so you can put it on your shelf, and gaze at it every night before bed and pretend you’re a writer for the rest of your small, sad life.
But still, I think it will be a refreshing challenge, even if no one on planet Earth cares, even if my editor decides to keep the manuscript for toilet paper. Honestly, a professional or an aspiring professional needs to keep up a 50K literary yield 12 months of the year. (On those terms I am an utter failure).
What’s funny — and a little sad — about this decision, is that it is precisely the writer’s work ethic I’ve tried to commit myself to ever since I moved out of the house a year ago. But because I’ve fallen devastatingly short of my personal expectations, this has been one of the hardest years of my life. I have spent it floundering, procrastinating with friends, lolly-gagging on dating sites, and whining about my sex life. I tried to accept my limitations, and simply deal with my unfulfilled dreams as a fact of life as granted as snow or taxes.
Typically, a writer is supposed to exclusively write his novel over the course of the month, but I’ve set myself up with impossible expectations too many times to disappoint myself again. That is why I will include blog posts and my newspaper column in the mix. I will grant myself that small boon. But the real point is to finish my fucking book.
It will not be the best novel on the planet. It will not be the novel I’ve dreamed. It might not even be impressive. I might be indifferent, perhaps ashamed of it, by the time it is over. But, like … shit. I need something to show for myself. I’ve lost days worth of sleep over this crisis. I’ve had migraines, even small panic attacks, over my writer’s blocks.
Already, I steel myself.