Tuesday, November 2, 2010
My First NaNo
Pulling his attention (reluctantly) away from the TV, he asked, "What's that?"
As I explained the concept of National Novel Writing Month, and my personal reasons for participating, I began feeling anxious - and overwhelmed - about the commitment. I went on about how I would need my computer free in the evenings and why I had to get dinner over with in a timely manner, but I could see his eyes glazing over.
"Okay," he said when I sputtered to a stop and went back to watching TV.
This was my first clue that I was starting to obsess about National Novel Writing Month.
This is my first year for NaNo. Last year, several members of my critique group participated, but I did not. And I felt that I had good reasons for my decision. I was several chapters into my first novel and I didn't want to stop the momentum to start another story. Also, the Thanksgiving holiday is something that doesn't happen just once in my family - between my husband and I, we have a large family requiring our presence at 2-3 family functions. Then, of course, there's Christmas shopping and decorating to do (I like to get it all done early). So I felt justified for holding out.
But, what I realized - as I watched other people (people I knew) participate in NaNo - is that none of my reasons were really valid. Everyone has lots to do at Thanksgiving and everyone has Christmas shopping or something equally as important. My real reason for not participating was plain, old-fashioned fear.
The final straw, so to speak, was the wonderful Guest Blog posted by Urban Fantasy author Laura Bickle. If you haven't read it you can find it here. She talks about her experiences with NaNo and the two books - both now published - that she completed during the month. After reading about her success, I realized that I needed to face my fears.
Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of being ridiculed. These fears have ruled my writing, crowding my head with "What ifs" and "You can't say that" thoughts. Participating in NaNo is about facing these fears and moving forward with my writing.
I also have other compelling reasons to participate.
Second, I have to learn to write without editing myself. My Inner Editor is a cold-hearted, evil bitch with no compassion whatsoever. She delights in ripping my efforts to shreds - before the words even hit the page, if possible. I sit, staring at the blank page, desperate to find a word - any word - that's suitable to type.
And finally, I really need to finish something. I'm good at starting a story, but not so good at sticking with it. Halfway through (or before) I've already decided that the story I'm telling is overdone, my writing sucks and the ending I'm working towards is garbage. So I quit. The story I was in the middle of last year at this time (the one I didn't want to put away) now languishes on my computer - stuck on Chapter 8.
So, I made the plunge. Headfirst dive, no safety net - just me and a blank page. I've locked my Inner Editor in a closet and bought my fears a one-way ticket to Antarctica. You'll have to check back to see how it goes.
If you have a moment to spare from your own project, I would love to hear your experience with NaNo. Is it your first time? Have you participated before and if so, what are your thoughts on the experience. If not, why not? All comments are greatly appreciated.