Read the above while, if possible, listening to Rapsody’s song of the same name. Rapsody is dope, and a mightier force than I am…for now.
After about 14 years of forgetting and foot dragging, I finally committed to NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. That means a commitment of writing 50,000 words of a novel I intend to publish. Long form is a mystery to me, and I’m feeling a mix of exhilaration, a pleasant tension, and good ol’ crippling performance anxiety.
That’s why I’m making it public. Not only did I announce it on Twitter and Facebook, but I persuaded people I respect to join me in the effort, to keep us all nice and accountable. My hands are moist as I type this. The nervousness is real. I’m trying not to overthink or sabotage myself; I’d be quite pleased to come out of this with a good outline, let alone 50k in creative, cohesive words.
I am ahead in one respect: I know my topic, and have been struggling to get a foothold on it since September. I’m in a few online writing groups, some public, some invite-only, but I’m hoping the pressure of public scrutiny from people I might actually bump into on the street may jolt me into a more imaginative and accountable space.
Replies on the blog and on social media got me to this place, too. I’ve been surprised, overwhelmed even, by the encouragement and the comments. I’ve never taken compliments lightly. No one is under contract to tell me I’m doing well or to keep plugging along. I file all that positivity away and it does indeed make the words shape themselves with a bit more ease.
And so—FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS? I always thought I was out of my mind, and now it’s confirmed. It’s not too late to back out. I’m gonna make up a class I’m taking. Like, a multidimensional physics class that lasts all day, Monday through Friday. Or I could feign a broken finger. No one expects me to dictate 50k in notes, right? Oh my God, the panic is through the roof. Why not 500 words? I can do that in my sleep. Give me a theme and I’ll churn you out a story that’ll at least last you a good rush-hour train ride. Ooooh, why so many words? They’re so tricky, and clichés have to be sidestepped and repetition has to be avoided and so much has to make sense from one chapter to the next. I am drowwwwning.
Ugh, I’m glad that passed (it’ll pop up again and I assume it’ll pass again). This go round, I’m gonna give it my best. While my editor remains MIA on my current work, I’ll start another that perhaps passes muster quicker. My peers are bright, whip smart, witty and honest; no one’s going to lie and say a piece is brilliant if it’s a tsunami on the page (and I won’t do that to them, either). I’m going to embrace the madness and know that whatever happens next month, I have this home to return to, or check in at from time to time, to let you know how it’s going, how much coffee I’m drinking, how many Twizzlers I’m guzzling or how much salsa per chapter I’m gulping. It’ll all be OK because I do trust myself, and part of that trust comes from having wonderful readers.
I thank you very much.