Three out of four ain’t bad. I’m referring, of course, to National Novel Writing Month.
It’s kind of strange to look back on how different each of my NaNoWriMos have been. My life and the way I approach writing has changed so much over the last four years.
2008 – I was new. Raw. I didn’t know anything, really, about writing, but NaNo was what I needed to get my butt in my chair to work out what I needed to work out a lot of my “new writer” problems. It was thrilling. And maddening. I had a hard time sitting down to write most days because it was painful to see so much failure pour out onto a page. But there were moments that month where I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Those were the moments that showed me that, yes, Virginia, this writing thing was something I did want to do. I won that year.
2009 – I wasn’t new anymore, but I was still raw. I had a massive influx of ideas in the intervening year. I wanted to do a graphic novel. I wrote a bunch of short stories. I was high on inspiration and the belief that I could fucking DO THIS. I didn’t submit any stories to markets this year, but I joined a local writers group. I wrote a lot of shit. A LOT of shit. It was painful. I didn’t think I could do it. I dropped out of grad school halfway through the year because of the small part of me that thought I could do this writing thing. A lot of things broke that year and it was awful for a lot of reasons. I was terrified. This was the year I didn’t win because I came down with the flu. I had no health insurance so I slept as much as I could that month because I was terrified of being awake. Terrified I would have to go to the hospital. I lost that year.
2010 – I wrote a lot more this year. I was working in a job that gave me a lot more headspace. I finally, after five years, stopped being chronically depressed. The inspiration remained, but I was uncertain. I fought myself over fears of what my future would be like if I failed. The same paralysis that gripped me in grad school still held me tight. I could write, but I made excuses. So many excuses. But a lot of amazing things happened this year which made me take stock of my fear. Of the excuses. I knew how I had to change. I knew I had to become more fearless than I was already pretending to be. I had to get over it. I had to grow. I couldn’t let myself fall into the future I was so terrified of. That month, I started NaNo on a whim. I wrote with no agenda. There was no future hanging on those words. There was no absolution. There were only the worlds. It was okay if they sucked. I won that year.
2011 – What can I say that I haven’t already said? This year has been incredible. Even before VP, when I was still struggling against my uncertainty. I applied to VP in the beginning of the year because “Fuck it” had firmly become my mantra. In 2010, I got three rejections. In 2011, I’ve so far gotten 18. VP (and WFC) broke that scared little part of me. Since October, I’ve stopped thinking of writing as a “hobby.” It’s a second job. It’s the real job I come home to after I work my “other” job from 9-5. And I treated it as such. I haven’t taken a day off of writing (or writing-related activities) since I got back to San Diego. I look forward to sitting down and writing something. Or even revising something. And because of that I won this year. A day early even.
As a reward, I’m taking a day off tomorrow from the novel, because it’s far from done. My NaNo will continue through next month, with the goal of finishing this first draft before the new year, because next year my goal is to start looking for an agent for this book.
But that won’t mean I’m taking a break from writing. I have a flash piece I want to finish and revise. I have a new story that needs some serious revision. There’s another one sitting half finished on my hard drive that I need to finish. And there’s the story idea I’m in love with, but haven’t quite figured out how to write yet that I’m looking forward to taking a stab at. And I got another story idea this morning listening to the latest Radiolab that I want to play around with for a bit. Not that those will all get done tomorrow (I’m not insane, and besides I have work all day). But all of these things are adding to my motivation to get the novel done next month, because then I’ll be free to play with all of those things in January to my heart’s content.
But the flash piece is due tomorrow. So flash it shall be.
Hope your November was productive. And if it wasn’t, you’ve got one day left to do something amazing.