I haven’t tried to do Nano since I failed to complete a novel in 2005. Even that was a poor attempt since I didn’t actually try to write a novel, but instead a play, which ended up being 17,000 words, or 33,000 shy of the intended goal. Still, I consider that a win, in the end, because that play got me to New York through Young Playwrights Inc. (if you know any young playwrights, refer them – YPI is great) during which I learned: 1.) I hate NYC and 2.) If you feel like you shouldn’t write something, you should.
That’s beside the point. Sort of. You see, I haven’t tried to do Nano in seven years because I’ve had a plenitude of good excuses. For five years it was essays to write for class and after that it was grad school applications. Since neither of those are obstacles now, I’ve run out of excuses, which is as good a reason as any.
There is a seed of triumph in this commitment, though. For the first time in years I am admitting that I’m not too stressed out to try writing a novel in a month. Looking back there’s something very wrong with that sentence, but I’m pursuing a thought now and can’t be held back.
John Barth, though I loathe him, made an observation I agree with, that writers usually fall into two categories: the marathoners and the sprinters (i.e. novel and short story writers). I’ve fallen into the latter category and that probably has something to do with having never been taught or encouraged to do the other. I’m a product of my education, what can I say?
Last year, I tried writing out two ideas for full-length work, but kept struggling with how to weave a plot together over 50k+ words. Nano provides a great incentive: indifference. I like both ideas and, paradoxically, really need to get to the point where I don’t care enough that I can write a lousy first draft.
Will it be any good? Of course not, but at least it won’t be rattling around in my skull any longer.
One response to “A matter of indifference”
This is my soapbox forever, from which I am cheering you on in this endeavor. NaNoWriMo is not, for most, as many people on the outside of the event seem to think, a promise to magically complete An Actual Real Novel in one month and then somehow get published. (You know this, I know you do). Rather, it’s a challenge to your process, a gauntlet thrown down at your stressors and procrastinations, and a reason to write beyond your usual roadblocks. NaNoWriMo has always forced me to get really in the face of what I’m bad at, which makes it a lot easier to confront and scrutinize in the months following, and keep in mind when I’m planning projects.