I’m making good progress towards that totally arbitrary 50,000 word deadline in November. So much so that I can make out what I’m trying to do with this novel project. It’s definitely becoming something more than I thought it would. Basically, I never presumed my first proper novel attempt would be a reflexive and literary Australian horror story. However, I recognise ideas come from everywhere and it was clearly time for this one as I was happening by.
Most of all, this is fun. Not the sitting and typing so much as the thinking and seeing it take shape. This is my main message. Fun is not compulsory when writing, in fact nothing should be compulsory. There are no MUSTS in writing, but fun helps.
If you don’t enjoy it, why are you volunteering for this? It’s not like everyone has ever been guaranteed a bazillionty dollars for completing a book or a short story, most especially these days.
Lighten up, k? Write the story you want to read. While you’re doing this, don’t sabotage your efforts through a roll call of Protestant Worth Ethic guilt trips if you don’t live up to whatever self-imposed standard you’ve set for your self. Turn off the inner judge. Leave off the self loathing. In fact, stop focussing on yourself entirely. Be absorbed by the writing. I’ll say this again in case you skipped this bit:
FORGET YOURSELF AND BE ABSORBED BY YOUR STORY
Creating a world and peopling it and making and solving the conflicts between them is joyous. It’s like building sand castles without the sand and sand-flies and sunburn and tiny blue ringed octopi that dwell in nearby rock-pools that can kill you dead within minutes….
Where was I?
Fun and joy don’t mean not taking story telling seriously. I take writing immensely seriously. I’ve invested thousands of dollars and a decade or more of my non-working hours to this pursuit. I wouldn’t have done this if I hated every second. Yet, it is still, essentially, play.
That’s not to say I dance with glee every other hour either – 15 plus rejections this year and counting – not exactly feeling the love during these moments. But neither am I weeping into my soup. These are but sign posts that indicate I’m getting somewhere. Of course, I would welcome greater success: I am prepared with publication happy dances.
Also, I’m not immune to down days, but in the end, I’m still doing something I love, regardless of how many people see it, or how much I earn from it.
Life is fleeting and chances to do things you enjoy diminish. There are so many other things to really be concerned about, like the environment, the air we breathe, war and famine. Life and death and illness. Why needlessly add to the angst in the world by being conflicted about art or what you have written? If you need to know one thing, know this: art doesn’t need your suffering to exist.
If National Novel Writing Month adds to your distress and only gives more life to your hang ups, it’s not for you. That’s ok, by the way. Work out your weaknesses and learn work arounds, or try to overcome them. Write how you need to write. After all this time, I know me and what I’m like as a writer. I like competition and goals. I often work to deadlines so am familiar with the feeling. I’m also aware that I like making starts, but find the middle bit the most difficult.
Because I know what I struggle with, I’ve worked how to do this: through the design of my project, which feels like several short stories strung together (but isn’t actually), and by distracting myself with Scrivener, and by absorbing all the advice I can find:) And by getting people to cheer me on.
All this doesn’t guarantee a NaNo ‘win’ but it helps my mental state and maintains my interest and momentun, so hopefully I’ll up with a novel length manuscript in the long run. And that’s a good a reason as any for doing this.