I am, I realized, insane.
But I had to admit, the siren call of Nanowrimo was too irresistible. I had told myself last month that if I wrapped up the last revision of my novel, I’d give myself November off from it and start on my next book, using Nanowrimo as a semi-sanctioned cultural excuse to write a large amount of (mostly crappy) words in a short period of time.
Of course, I didn’t think this would happen, because I thought I wouldn’t be done. I had been struggling for some time, you see, chipping away at this current revision, again and again fitzing and cutting and re-writing and chopping and adding. I had gotten used to struggling and feeling discouraged, I guess. I honestly had the thought that I would be one of those supremely frustrated writers who just never are able to get past that one spot in their books, and that I would go to hell faced with these chapters and never be able to get them right, my evil laptop ridiculing me for how utterly ridiculous my attempts were and broadcasting all of them out into the Internet for my ex-boyfriends to laugh at. (That is my version of writer’s hell.)
And then, something magical happened. Some beautiful, gorgeous goddess of words and writing bestowed upon me a remarkable solution that somehow sliced through my difficulties*, and somehow I got to the end of my book. I was just sitting there in Barnes & Noble, looking at this really cute guy in the cafe and tooling away at my document. Maybe I was so distracted by Foxy Coffee Dude that I wasn’t paying attention, because suddenly I realized, Wow, there’s nothing left for me to do. Every item on my To-Do to Fix My Book list had been done.
I looked up in a kind of daze, staring at those weird author portraits they hang up there, godlike, in the store’s cafes. I remember I was directly opposite Langston Hughes, which is a strange author god to have looking down on you as you finish a book about teenage skater werewolves. (“What Would Langston Think?”) I remember I just shut my computer off and didn’t know what to do with myself for a moment. So I read a discarded Us Weekly the next table over, because isn’t that what real people do with their time instead of spending so much of it in their heads with imaginary people?
The next day was Halloween, and I ate lots of candy and wore angel wings with great abandon.
And then the next day, it was November 1. I still didn’t know if I would do Nanowrimo. I thought initially I’d give myself all of November off. You know, sleep, relax, gad about Europe a bit, not put a lot of pressure on myself to keep accomplishing stuff. I have been working on this current book for a long time, revising for nearly a year. Wasn’t I just depleted? What more did I really have to give? I had a few loose ideas for the next book kicking around, ones that had been marinating there in the old brain for some time. But nothing really fully thought-out, considered. Nah, I said to myself. No need to do it.
I did my job that day, I went to the gym. I think I talked to one of my beloveds on the phone for awhile. Then I went to check my email, and opened up my Google Docs, where I had a backup of my current revision going. I thought I was just going to upload the latest version to my account. But suddenly I thought, what the heck. I opened up a new doc and started writing. I kept writing day after day, some days harder than others, but when those came I was too excited by things to be much discouraged, chalking it up to the usual ebb and flow of emotions you have when you write a lot. And now it is the 11th and I’m happily halfway through.
Of course, tomorrow I get to fly over an ocean to another continent, and I’m not bringing my computer because I am so sick of being on my laptop all the time. So no doubt I will likely “fail” at Nanowrimo. But you know, failure is educational and failure can keep you honest. And I’m excited for my next story and am excited to see what I discover about my character, about writing, about myself.
* This technique is called “delete.” As in, if it’s not working, just delete! It only really works if you are an over-writer, like me.