I have put a lot of pressure on myself over a long to prove I am a writer, and to improve and to hone my craft while I sweat blood over the merest detail of a finely tuned short story. As my recent week full of rejected submissions demonstrates, this job is never done. Even if I’ve managed to convince myself any of the pieces I write is cooked and ready, the market is what it is. I am one of legion, clawing at the doors of journals, competitions and spaces and other publications to let my lil stories in from the cold.
With NaNoWriMo, though, it’s almost a relief to write under a different kind of pressure. There is just the word count. The rest of it is describing where these two characters I’ve created go, transcribing their interactions, and noting how they react to the experiences I lead them to. This happens even as I design and redesign the story around them. At the moment I’m not hunting down the perfect word for them, I’m slapping them all down and I’m finding much of what I’m doing is ok. But it’s a first draft. It doesn’t have to have the gossamer artistry of poetic truth coupled to the complex allusive depth of Great Art. Thank the Muses.
This draft can be average, or even worse. And that’s ok.
It might be a bit like painting a fresco. You have to do it fast and with a bit of confidence before the paint and the surface below it dries. To do that, and have it look a bit like you intend, you need to understand the limits of the medium your working with and your own abilities, and still be willing to be there and attend to it. I have that. I got that in spades.
Yet, it turns out I still undersell myself. I can write, I’ve been published, I’ve had novelists tell me to my face I am a writer at workshops. I can write a thousand words on Doctor Who at the drop of an episode (or not even that much), but when it comes to trusting my skills to translate my imagination into a larger work….that muscle’s a bit atrophied. For reasons I don’t have to time explore here (cos deadline).
So, I keep telling myself – it just has to be ok. I don’t need to write how Leonardo Da Vinci painted. It just needs to be realised, perhaps like in clay, so I can come back in December and knead into shape, or burn it at midnight, whichever. I just have to quiet the inner critic who always demands better or not at all, and get those words down.
Word Count right now: 12.0000 words (on track).