A bazaar crowded with random offerings. William Gibson/Henrik Ibsen. Zafon, Murakami, Van Gogh. A table of well-thumbed Louisa May Alcott. Shiny Urban Fantasy and an aromatic clutter of cookbooks.
If you follow me here–or anywhere–you’ll have noticed that, despite having all the usual channels, I don’t post much at the best of times. When you’re a slow writer, like me, there just isn’t time. It’s tough enough to juggle novel-writing and making a living with maintaining contact with the humans I love. Over the last year, having been not-so-gently nudged from salaried employment to contract work, I’ve been scrambling more furiously than ever.
And now, I’m heading into NaNo. The book I’d been working on has run over by about five months and is still 2 chapters shy of a complete draft (and several hundred hours shy of a final one). And even so, I’m heading into NaNo. That probably sounds counterproductive to you. Unless you’ve experienced NaNo the same way that I have. As I blogged back in 2011, "NaNo is not to be missed.” It seems somewhat ironic (in the classic, not the millennial, use of the word) that the “jolly little workplace comedy” I was kicking off that year is the same bear that I’ve been fighting to finish off (it turned out to be neither so jolly nor so little after all).
This will be my fifth consecutive November writing marathon. I look forward to it with a mixture of excitement and dread. I expect a particularly difficult run this year, a combination of escalated time pressures and a project that is fraught with emotional baggage. The book I’ll be working on, "Chasing Fireflies", is something I’ve been waiting my entire adult life to write. Waiting and preparing. In my mind, the novels I’ve written before–whether completed or not–have been training to write this one. Am I finally ready? No matter how much you prepare, you never feel as ready as you’d like to be. Even if I am ready–enough–is NaNo the right engine to kick it off? NaNo is relentless; it’s brilliant at pushing me forward by not allowing me the luxury of deliberating over every word. But for this novel, I want to deliberate; I want to write with the beauty and fluidity of a much better writer than I am. I know (and yes, I understand it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy) that if I manage to push through and “win” another NaNo, I’ll end up with mostly dross.
And yet, I’m doing NaNo. Because the focus and the confidence it gives me are a gift to be treasured. I write nearly every day of the year, but it’s the month of November, National Novel Writing Month, when I feel most like A Writer. On the other hand…don’t expect to read any of my work anytime soon!