This post my dear readers is to say a temporary good-bye. Before you panic, no, I’m not leaving the world of blog musings and book reviews. I am just taking a brief pause to test myself…and confront my inner trepidation of becoming an author. I’m officially throwing caution to the wind, swallowing my unnerving need for perfectionism, and jumping with two feet into the NaNoWriMo writing challenge. A challenge which will require not only all my creative juices to flow unblocked but also consume every last second of my free time (not to mention providing one hell of a wake-up call to my life partner in crime – procrastination).
For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Assigned to the month of November, NaNoWriMo provides a forum for would be writers to get those crazy, outlandish, zany, mind-bending, and imagination-riddled thoughts out of their heads and on to the physical page.
I heard of this writing challenge several years ago when I former staff of mine was gearing up to take the plunge herself. To participate, one must commit to writing 50,000 words in the course of a month. In this case, starting on the first of November and running until its close on the thirtieth. Clearly requiring a steadfast commitment to writing a minimum of 1,667 words per day, this task is not for the faint of heart – or the easily bored. In order for me to fully immerse myself in this mission (if I chose to accept it), I MUST not only hide myself from the world but also completely and totally go within myself – extending an open invitation to the deepest recesses of my mind and soul (trespassers beware!). One of my favourite artists Lady Gaga once explained that in order for her to expose her most intimately artistic self she literally had to shut herself away from the world. No distractions, no interruptions, no life. Fundamentally shield herself from the hum drum predictable reality of the day to day so that the non-rational, non-literal side could emerge unscathed. Deep down I know that this is what I, too, need to do in order to overcome my inhibitions of giving this month long writing experiment an honest go. Nonetheless, I am faced with two rather cumbersome personal hurdles. One, having developed a hint of adult onset ADD, I am a very easily distracted individual trapped in an introvert’s body. Give me a shiny object or an interesting read and you’ve completely lost my attention (any friend or family member can vouch for me here). Second, I struggle innately with getting caught up in other people’s lives. I’m the eternal “fixer”, the “go to” person who is not only always willing to listen but will also carry another person’s problems like a trophy until I discern a way to make things better. Though well meaning, I have reached the pinnacle of what I can emotionally handle, so much so that my mind has become a constant merry go round that I desperately need to get off. I am desperate to press pause on my external life and focus completely on the creation of my own beautiful music – the melodious invention of my own symphony of words.
As karma would have it, just as I was once again participating in a mental game of “should I write/what to write” ping pong, the concept of writing a novel in a month magically appeared in my inbox. The sender advertised a “Come Write In” campaign in partnership with the local library and the folks at NaNoWriMo, which has now become a booming online community. There are prep lists and suggestion blogs, member forums and word tracking sheets, an online store, and even a writing camp (Go Camp NaNoWriMo!). You are VERY well supported in your excursion towards authorship. In addition to these online encouragements, a quick glance to my overflowing book shelf further revealed a copious pile of self-help for want to be writers. (Clearly this is something I’ve been wanting to do since time began). Despite all this wonderful backing, I still feel that the best writing advice came from author and writing workshop extraordinaire Natalie Goldberg when she proclaimed, “the best way to be a writer is to just write”. So that is exactly what I intend to do – just write.
After pondering the monumental task that is writing 50,000 words in a month, I came to the conclusion that, like many aspects of my life, my approach has always been “balls in” – either do it or don’t. Shit or get off the pot. So, as the first of November looms near, I have decided to have a no holds barred go at this Herculean writing challenge. Why you ask? Well the answer is quite simple: because I don’t think I can do it. Perhaps a bit of a backwards stance but that’s how I feel. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never had the tenacity to do. I’ll be honest in saying that I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about – my preparatory plans have been quite limited to say the least. Unlike many who have been prepping for this challenge for months, I, like in many aspects of my life, am just going to wing it. The other reason that I don’t think I am able to complete this challenge is because it is geared towards fiction writing, a division of literary talent in which I am seriously lacking.
As I temporarily sign out and put my blog entries on hold for the duration of November, my hope is that I will return refreshed and inspired come the beginning of December. (Either that I’ll be so worn out and tired from constantly racking my brain that I’ll be huddled in a ball, feverishly rocking in the corner – surprisingly similar to my years as an undergrad now that I think about it). Both my fingers and toes are crossed that I will materialize fruitful in my endeavor but if I prove unsuccessful and the only thing I gain is the realization and proof that I suck as a fiction writer, I will still hold great comfort that the journey and lessons learned will become an essential part of my life toolbox.
While I am both dreading and looking forward to this short-lived blog break, I know it will test me both mentally and creatively. I suspect some of my personal relationships will come under fire for my lack of “being there/available” but those who know me well will appreciate that this is something I have thought about doing for most of my adult life. While I highly doubt anything more than a slightly tolerable read will come from this quest, I can profess that when your dreams start haunting your waking life, sacrifices need to be made. A notion that has become my waking testament.
This November I’m going to NaNoWriMo, and give my dream of authorship a fighting chance.
See you in December!