This has happened before, and now that I’ve used a cold pack and about six motrin, I’m feeling slightly better. The kids have to decorate without me, and I’m afraid Mate and Trystan are on for carving the second pumpkin (because the first ones got all moldy because you don’t carve pumpkins two weeks before Halloween, but that’s not the point.
The point is, it’s NANOWRIMO.
NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth is a brilliant exercise in masochism whereby authors and aspiring authors publicly publish their word count stats per day, to see if they can reach 50K in the span of a month. For some people, it’s a chance to get motivated by doing something that’s usually solitary in a group, and for some people it’s a chance to keep track of their novel stats and improve on their productivity. For some people, it’s mostly a chance to brag–and I have to admit, it’s been very good to me.
Keeping Promise Rock was 119K and written in six weeks during 2009. Alas, not during NANOWRIMO, but in October instead, so the next year, when NANOWRIMO came around, I wanted to use a skill I now knew I had, and make it official. The result was The Locker Room, and yes– as breakout novels go, that one was a doozy. The next year, I chose to finish a book called Chase in Shadow and start on Gambling Men, and that worked out rather well for me too. The year after that, I wrote the bulk of Bolt-Hole, and last year, I wrote most of Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair.
I know I can beat NANO.
But the thing is…
See, last year, while I was working on Blackbird, several things happened– and I’m not even sure I can remember them all. One manuscript that should have been edited eons before November suddenly needed to be edited in two weeks– with an accompanying blog tour that probably amounted to 15,000 words on it’s own. One manuscript that should have been released in February or March suddenly needed to be edited for release in January. I was in the process of editing The Bitter Moon saga, and that was not going smoothly, and Going Up was getting the rookie treatment and I was suddenly turning into the bitch diva from hell that I’d always despised.
And in the middle of that– and Thanksgiving for the fam, and Zoomboy’s birthday (cause that’s on the 15th) and the end of soccer (we call it “pizza weekend”)– I was very publicly writing 60,000 words of something I had already proved I could finish.
But I had this thing looming over my head. This stupid, self-imposed thing. A thing I usually really loved, but that I’d committed doing in public already– I mean, people can go see your daily progress, right? And I”m just too dumb to even lie about that, or to save it all up for the end, or to cheat in anyway, or even to quit, when I know that just this once, I’m totally outnumbered and out gunned.
December was just as stressful (and it was when I started Beneath the Stain—170K in 3 months) and by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I was a bloated (gained 15 lbs!) angsty, neurotic, wreck with swollen feet and the disposition of a constipated troll. I mean that was the place I was coming from when I wrote A Gentle Shove of Human Kindness– let’s just say that damaged divas and constipated trolls were my brethren at that time in my life.
Anyway– not that November wouldn’t have been a clusterfucking train wreck on it’s own, after all, but on top of that I had NANOWRIMO?
But now NANO is rolling around again, and, well, I have the possibility of some of the same bullshit rolling around too.
And I want to do NANO– it’s treated me well, and it’s fun, and adding your word count up by the day really does help to motivate a person, and…
And I pinched a nerve in my shoulder, and I’m stoned out of my mind with Motrin and the kids had to decorate the front porch because just standing up hurts and so does typing and…
And I can buy my own sweatshirt.
So I don’t know.
I mean as much as I’d like to write 60K every month doesn’t mean I can– or even should. I’ve always been about the craft and how the right words are more important than the number of words– do I really want to make a million words when I’m not happy about the quality? And I am sort of trying to take care of myself and my family. I’m not excited that I was sitting here blogging while my kids were decorating. I don’t think it makes me a very good mother, to tell the truth. Neither does going to bed at two in the morning and staggering around in a funk while they’re getting ready for school. And going out to eat a lot (which we haven’t been doing lately) doesn’t do it either. Neither does writing during nightly TV family time, or not being in the moment when they need me the most.
NANO has been awfully good to me.
I guess I’ll figure it out on Saturday, right? That’s when I make all my best decisions– the absolute moment when they need to be made. And seriously– how bad could it be, signing up for NANO and not making the deadline?
*looks sheepishly around at the number of people who could be watching*
Oh God. Don’t answer that. I’ll have to answer that one on my own!