Thank You Very Much

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.

(561 words)

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I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Dat Writin’

First, let me say: I am the worst.

Show me an honest, self-aware writer who’s never had that thought, and I will…be flabbergasted at their level of confidence and self-importance, actually.

But really, I’m the worst. I’m a writer, even when I didn’t say it. Even when I put my name to things, I didn’t really talk about it. When friends mentioned it, I assumed it was pity praise and a testament to our bond more than anything.

That assumption’s done. For better or for worse, this is my fate. I might as well embrace it, cause it’s not going away.

I delight in reading suggestions for writers. It’s cool, it’s romantic, it’s got that je ne sais quoi. Of course you want to write your personal opus. And you want it to be the best. Mediocrity isn’t in your vocabulary–which is superb. You know the person you are meant to be. Fill yourself up with that good good, those magic tips that’ll land you on the bestsellers’ list, get on college syllabi, earn yourself tenure. When people say your name they’ll say “You mean the writer?” Yasss, I love some good writing tip porn.

My biggest dream is to have that writer’s space they always talk about (a room of one’s own…sorry, I had to). Squeezing in a bit of typing on lunch breaks, after work on an uneven couch, or stomach side on a bed before a nap just doesn’t give the craft the respect I feel it deserves. I make do, but my Pinterests lean toward big oak desks facing huge windows with clutches of trees outside.

Oooh, another favorite is to set aside time every day to write. That right there is a fabulous life. I’m childless and unmarried, but finding time away from Star Trek reruns, Amazon surfing, last-minute brunch dates and darts to the corner store for last-minute tea? That’s gonna be a problem. But how colorful and quaint a concept: Muting all influences except your mind’s own, preferably staring out the window of your London pied-à-terre, a perfectly warm mug of tea to one side, a stack of completely legible notes to the other. Sixty. minutes. every. day.

Now lemme tell you how I get down.

blackhandwriting

 

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