|| NaNoWriMo is once again almost upon us, and I will once again be diving in. In my imagination I’ll be able to write a couple times a day, midmorning and early evening, perhaps. Writing with the ease and wit of a seasoned author, I’ll smile as I type. Similes will radiate like a warm, summer sunset, and my my dialogue will compose itself. I’ll write in coffee shops and pubs, taking insights, energy, and inspiration from the eclectic din of the crowds. I’ll share witty banter with other NaNoWriMo’s, and, of course, watch my wordcount ring up faster than the cash registers at Costco the day before Thanksgiving.
Such would be the life, wouldn’t it? Alas, but it really is so much imagination. The truth is I’ve lived through enough realities of NaNoWriMo’s past to know that they never come close to working out that way. in ’13 I slated time off specifically to write, and even kept a notepad close to jot down thoughts about plot, characters, and settings. I ended up having to cancel most of my leave for work and lost the notepad. in ’14 I honestly thought I’d be able to do NaNoWriMo and have partial knee replacement. On both knees. Now that, I would posit, really is imagination!
So now, November looms once again. It is time. Time to take a flying leap that I know, by sheer reality, the the question isn’t so much whether or not I will be short as much as it is, by how much? I am also trying to finish a short story to send out for consideration (a first!), I am co-writing a novella with Mark Gardner (another first!), and, I am in the process of starting to sell my photographs at a local gallery (completing the trifecta of firsts!). So, to put it mildly, just what in the Hell am I thinking? Well, it turns out I’m not so much thinking as doing, and I’m taking my inspiration for this years writefest from three different places.
First, from the inestimable Tony Noland comes this fantastic blogpost about doing NaNoWriMo this year despite a schedule that makes mine look a happy puppy’s calendar; eat, play, poop, sleep, repeat as necessary. And, he’s doing it longhand! Which may be unique these days, but I’m pretty sure we’ve had more years writing things that way than not, when you think about it. So I applaud both Tony and his throwback ways, as well as his commitment to write. He inspired me to start doing #FlashFriday pieces years ago, so if he can take on NaNoWriMo with a trusty pen, a journal, and enough grammar knowledge for the both of us, then I can surely bang out something.
I also found tremendous inspiration in Delilah S. Dawson‘s “Big Idea” piece I read earlier today on Wake of Vultures. She talks about writing without worry of what booksellers, publishers, or editors are going to think, and how Eric Cartman’s “I DO WHAT I WANT!” became her mantra. In writing what she wanted to write, she didn’t just turn over one table, but all of them! She speaks about writing openly, and fearlessly, and how exciting it was. I ‘ve not only added her book to my “Read NOW” list, I am also going to draw on her words for NaNoWriMo too.
Finally, I have to confess that I found the genius of Sir Terry Pratchett far, far too late. Only in recent years have I started reading his brilliant Discworld books and I am staggered by how well he writes. I have agonized when writing fantasy to try and use “timeless” descriptions to keep the thin veneer between our world and my characters intact. Sir Pratchett deftly moved in and out of worlds, not merely writing, but storytelling with an ease that belied his well honed talent. Sir Pratchett’s works show, as perhaps nothing else can, just how amazing a novel can be when so many established “rules” aren’t so much broken as dismissively ignored.
The take from all of these is that I don’t have to write safe. I don’t have to agonize over the mechanics of plot, and whether my balance between dialogue and description is too far one way or the other. Instead I need to just throw myself into the work and have fun! Enjoy it! Make dumb jokes here and there, break the fourth wall as needed, and pun to my hearts content. Hell I can even shatter the Fourth Wall, even awhile enjoying the challenge of writing myself into the kind of corners that spawned the building of an entire apparatus for Greek plays, Deus ex machina.
My point is that NaNoWriMo for me is going to be fun. It’s going to be enjoyable, and I won’t just be letting go of the self imposed ties that I have let constrain me for far too long, so much as cutting them. I may not go to nearly as many coffee shops and pubs as I’d like, nor get enough words down to “Win,” but I know I will be true to my story.