Oh, hi, friends.
I don’t do the “typical” blog entry here much anymore – and for good reason. I don’t think you visit my website to know more about me, I think you want to get a good idea of what to, and not to, read. I hope I’ve been able to provide that so far.
Still, I think this month deserves a bit of a step away from that set-up. If you know anything about the reading and writing community, you’ve probably heard about NaNoWriMo. If you know anything about me at all, you probably know that I love NaNoWriMo.
Love is an understatement, actually. NaNoWriMo has defined me, created me, caused me to grow. The month of November, for me, is one of challenge and immense satisfaction. I own my entire self and one of my best friends to NaNoWriMo. I know it sounds dramatic, but I am who I am because of Chris Baty and his challenge to himself that he decided to share with his friends.
This is my 13th year of NaNoWriMo. I wrote my first 50,000 word novel in a green three-subject spiral notebook when I was in 8th grade. I went through two pens. This was before I understood the importance of paragraph breaks. It was a fantasy novel that quite blatantly stole plot line details from LOTR. I still love that story. Now I am querying for traditional publication of my 12th novel, the chick lit story called Viva Las Vegas. In between I have written sci fi, literary, mystery, and plenty of romance. I’ve loved and hated my novels. I’ve stayed up late, flown to San Francisco, yelled at my husband, lost my work, found my muse, written on pen and paper, written on many computers. I’ve grown each and every time.
There are a lot of haters about NaNoWriMo out there. I think they hate the hype (I do, too, in a way). They argue against why someone should purposely write poorly, why they should rush a process, why they should ever encourage “everyone” to write a novel. Haters gonna hate. Which is worse – the person who spends 10 years hemming and hawing over a novel that turns out to still be crap, or the person who spurts it out in 30 days, out of breath, cheeks flushed, hands in the air and cheering? Do we frown and tsk at the person who comes in last during a marathon? What’s the point of running if you’re not going to be first? It’s the action of it, the emotion of it, it’s about YOU not the consumer. This is what NaNoWriMo is.
If Chris Baty had never challenged me to write a novel, would I ever had done it? Maybe.
Would I have written 13 novels before the age of 25? No.
Would I have 12 instances of pure elation, that feeling of accomplishment, realization of my own power and ability and dedication when I crossed that finish line? Absolutely not.
Would I ever have had the confidence to work and on a novel for a year and be prepared to publish it? Maybe someday.
NaNoWriMo provides an escape. It releases us from a life of confinement. It tells us that for a while, just for 30 days, we can change our priorities. Kids, work, partners, grocery shopping ,whatever – it can take a back seat. For 30 days, if only for 30 days, we can say, “I want to do this for me.” And it’s a goal that hard, really hard for some (it gets easier, by the way). It’s a goal that’s achievable. It’s a goal that is so much better because there is no prize. There’s no competition against others, only yourself. It’s beautiful and wonderful and sometimes we even get a beautiful story out of it – which is just icing on the cake.
This month, I’ve been ramping up my duties at work and I’ve been in the height of the process of buying a house. I’m querying a novel, writing in this blog, and spending two hours a day commuting by train (where I don’t write due to usually having to stand). It’s been hard for me to write, and it has been such a wonderful challenge. It never once crossed my mind not to participate in NaNoWriMo. I will do it each and every year. It’s a part of who I am. Some years I may not make it – I didn’t in 2004, after all – but I will do it for the rest of my life because without it I wouldn’t be who I am. And you don’t just throw that kind of commitment away.
Now, that being said, I have protagonist who needs to join a reggae band.