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Nanowrimo countdown.

October 29, 2009

National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, starts on Sunday, November 1st and I’m getting myself ready. As I write this post, I’m listening to Tom Ashbrook interview the typically truculent John Irving. John states, “To be a writer you have to like being alone…” or words to that effect and I totally find myself nodding. It’s true. You have to love solitude. Not the dramatic, pretentious kind, but rather quiet moments, sipping too much beverage of choice and moving words across the page.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.

-Anais Nin.

This is one of my favorite quotations. It definitely explains my reasons for writing. While I am not especially interested in memoir or creative non fiction, I do find my fiction to be place to examine my truths. Writing about events in fictionalized form gives me the freedom to omit or include whatever details I feel give texture to the piece.

I have been doing NaNoWriMo for over five years, and I strongly advocate it for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have literary aspirations. Having a dedicated time to be lost in your thoughts, creating words is beneficial even if nobody else ever sees those words. There is a feeling of accomplishment on the last day when you see the word count and it’s 50k or over. Seriously, it is an amazing feeling. It never ceases to humble me.

1667 words a day to reach goal, which is roughly five or six double spaced pages. That’s all it takes. Many newbies are too precious about their writing. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write, not write perfectly. In fact, I don’t even read what I wrote the day before. I just keep moving forward. Generally, I can knock out 2000 words per day when I’m doing NaNoWriMo and finish a couple of days before the end. I use the time to reflect and eventually add more so I’m doing it the entire month. Depending on how fast you type you can knock out your word count in a hour or less.

I do a lot of writing, both professionally (as a grant writer) and personally, so I am used to getting my write on. I look forward to the comfort of the page and, oh yeah, I type approx. 98 words per minute (according to the typing test I took this morning.) Yesterday my score was 103 wpm.

In real life as in Grand Opera, arias only make hopeless situations worse

-Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I carry this quote in my wallet and every time I peek in for cash or a receipt or store discount card, I reflect on it and smile. Kilgore Trout noted this while suiting up to quash the den in the aftermath of the Timequake. It has become my life motto, applicable in countless situations and surprisingly comforting. A corollary, is my mother’s oft stated, “There will always be time to panic later.” (this seems very Dr. Strangelove-ish, but I can’t seem to attribute its use.)

What NaNoWriMo has most given me is the ability to write and believe in my work despite not always seeing visible signs of progress or success. One of my Nano projects ultimately became my MFA thesis. It started as a rambling piece, which should have been called Hot Mess in 62k words or less. but there were gems sprinkled throughout the piece. It isn’t always about talent; it’s about discipline. That’s what my first writing teacher told me. He was generally dismissive of my work, though he admired the way I cultivated my voice. He said my craft developed exponentially because I showed up to the page.

And in the end, if nothing else, that’s the best part of NaNoWriMo.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 30, 2009 9:06 am

    I would consider doing NaNoWriMo, but I’m also thinking of submitting a one-act play for my school’s festival (as I tweeted). That’s due on the twentieth, and once you take into account schoolwork and so on, I don’t really think I have time to do both.

    Maybe next year, though.

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