I decided to sign up for the National Novel Writing Month event where you attempt to write an entire novel in the month of November. This will be quite a challenge for me considering life (house, wedding plans) have taken up just about all of my spare time. A few months ago, I tried to get myself into the habit of writing for five minutes a day in a journal. Sad to say that I couldn’t even keep it up for a week. I just can’t keep a regular enough schedule yet in my day to find that space to write. I know I could do it if I specified a time every day to spend on it… I just need to be diligent and spend the time.
Our house has not come along as fast as we had hoped. However, there should be a little bit of a pause coming up now that I’ve finished painting the master bedroom closet and (almost) the hallway. Crow has promised to support me in my effort to write a novel in a month and will help me find time to spend on it (we’re trying not to book up all our weekends). I guess this will give a little taste of my dream… Where I create space in my schedule to do the writing. Too bad I still have to keep a 40 hour/week job!
I have an idea for a story. I’ve already entered the title and a quick synopsis in my profile on the NaNoWriMo site. To be honest, I don’t expect to actually finish the novel. I suppose that’s not the right attitude to take up right off the bat. I’m just hoping I get halfway through or something. My story idea is not really fleshed out. So I expect I may spend days just absently writing off the top of my head. According to my hero Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones, clarity will probably emerge from the jumble of noise in my head if I proceed in this way. Maybe I will unwittingly fumble to a middle and end to the story.
Despite my already pessimistic outlook on this event, I think I’m going to go full-tilt into the process by attending the local kick-off party and maybe a few “write-ins.” I met a girl at a party last weekend who has been involved with NaNoWriMo for many years and we talked a bit about the event and writing and I guess I started to feel a little inspired. I’m not someone who has ever participated in writer’s groups. I just get intimidated being around other people who write. Jealous. Competitive. If I get it in my head that someone else is a better writer than me, I convince myself that I’m doomed to fail.
I also have this secret nagging in my head that if anyone I know gets published for real, there’s no way ever that I would get published because in my mind publication is akin winning the lottery. And billion dollar lottery winners don’t all happen in one locality. So I catch myself hoping friends and family members who write don’t get published because that reduces my chances of getting published too. I feel pressured, like I’m in a race to be the first person in my peer group to get published; otherwise, all hope is lost. Yet, I haven’t really done anything to try to get published in years. So I’m not really running the race. Surely all my friends who are trying harder than me deserve a pay off.
Of course, I feel really ashamed for having these sort of thoughts. The more sensible part of me wants nothing more for my friends and family to also experience the joy of pursuing a goal even if it is the same goal I have. And I have to remind myself that getting published is clearly not the lottery. There’s a lot of factors involved in getting published. Some of it is luck. Some of it is talent. Some of it is having the right story at the right moment and the right person just happens to see it. I’m not really competing with my fellow local writers. I’m just trying to get noticed by a very small group of people at the top of a very high ladder and all of us are a slave to that system.
And, again, I haven’t even tried to publish anything. Or even write anything (other than that novel I started two summers ago and, uhm, got interrupt when I started hanging out with Crow). So I have no real steak in the game at the moment. But I’m hoping NaNoWriMo gets my creative juices flowing again. Even if what I write can’t be used for publication later, I’m hoping at the very least that I get into a habit of writing. Because when I’m writing, when I’m really into it, I feel a sense of peace and joy. I need to remember that the reason I write is for myself… It’s an inner yearning that drives me…. I don’t write to get published, I write to lose myself in a world or express feelings I’m struggling to understand. I need to write because it’s who I am. No one can get that but another writer or an artist, I think. I have to remind myself that I can be an accomplished writer even if I never get published. I have stories to tell and they have to come out of my head. Publishing–and making money from my art–is just a bonus. (And one that is unrealistic to count on as a career.)
Anyway, I’m not expecting anything grand out of my participation in NaNoWriMo. I’m just in it to see what happens. Hopefully it is more fun than frustrating (the writing process can be quite frustrating, though). I hope I can push past episodes of writer’s block by just shutting down my critical voice and writing from the heart. I think if I don’t plan anything grand (ie, publication), and focus on just telling a good story, I will write much better than I have in years.
When I was writing my other novel in the spring and summer of 2010, I really got into it. I remember getting that feeling I used to get when I wrote novels as a teenager. For the first time in years, I was really drawn into my story as though I were a watching it play out before me on a stage (similar to the feeling a person gets when reading a book). I remember particularly one great evening session where I woke up in the morning feeling as if I’d accomplished something. I went to church that morning and felt high the entire time I was there. Writer’s high. Nothing like it.
I want to feel that again. I want to feel at one with myself. I want to feel like I’m creating something wonderful. I want to create something wonderful. I hope NaNoWriMo helps me find that again. Or, at the very least, I hope I have a useful learning experience. People who have done it in the past seem to enjoy it. I hope that this skinny ghost of an idea that I have fleshes out into something vivid. If it doesn’t, though, I have a lot more ideas running around in my head. Just. Need. More. Time.