Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Dread Blank Screen
NaNo starts today.

That's not Robin Williams doing sound effects, but the acronym for National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.

To "win," you have to complete a 50,000 word novel by the end of November, which is something like 1679 words a day. The point, apparently, is to let yourself write as fast and as freely as you can, without stopping to re-draft, re-write, second-guess, shred, and all the other quagmires those of us on the compulsive side fall into which keep us on page 1 for way too long a time.

(Do you fall into a quagmire, or just get stuck in one?)

You aren't allowed to start writing a second early--there are minute-past-midnight 'write-in' parties for people who live in more populated areas--shades of the July Harry Potter book release midnight bashes, except at these write-ins you're not dressing up, schmoozing or drinking butter beer. You're writing. Which I guess is what I'll be doing a lot more of this coming month.

Which will be a challenge. Like most writers, I have always been doing something else while I'm working on a manuscript. Teaching ('real' school, homeschool, music); earning a living, as a janitor, house painter, Senate staffer, whatever; building our house (don't). At several points along the way, nursing a baby. (Awkward to do while writing, but possible.)

This month will be no different. I'm swamped with--oh, you don't want to hear the details; we're all swamped. (And please don't mention the coming "holidays.")

What will be different, what may be different, is my intention. I INTEND to finish, or at least to keep writing. I INTEND to ignore all those inner voices that hiss "Why are you doing this?" "Is anyone ever going to read this? want to?" "You can't possibly think you know what you're doing here." Etc.

This month, as a NaNo participant, I intend to believe that--well, just that. I intend to have faith that it matters that I'm writing. (See Blog # 1)

It helps that there is a NaNo website with virtual writing communities all over the world working through the same discipline. Living as away from everything as we do, I've never managed to belong to a writer's group; I'm looking forward to the possibility of companionship. Sitting down at a desk and facing a blank page is scary stuff.

It may also help that I've told you what I'm up to: now I can't back out!

Anyway, whatever your November holds, good luck with it. And wish me faith in mine.