As another mad National Novel Writing Month challenge comes to a close I’m particularly grateful to have any words on the page at all, never mind over 50,000 of them. Quite what possessed me to start two websites for writers, two community blogs, three Facebook fan pages and one radio channel during the month of November I’ll never know, but that’s what I did. Little by little, the websites took more time from my writing each day until only two days remained and my NaNoWriMo word count stagnated; 14,000 words short of the 50,000 needed to ‘win’.
I could have given up. I wanted to give up. But then I would have had that dirty, guilty sensation of knowing I could have tried harder. Ugly school memories returned to haunt me (“…could do better”). On top of that lay the guilt of being the founder of two websites aimed at helping writers finish-their-books-with-no-excuses when here I was, making excuses.
So I bought a bottle of red wine, cooked my son a tri-tip roast to remember, and delivered him back to college. No more excuses.
With the apartment now empty again (not counting two cats and one hyper hound), I sat down and had a think. I could blow it off. Everyone would understand, right? No, no, they wouldn’t. They’d be disappointed. Having set myself up as a leader, and knowing the only way to lead is by example, I had no choice but to see this thing through.
So I brewed a cup of tea, cracked open a large bar of dark chocolate, and set to work. And that’s when I finally learned something. I LIKE writing.
Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that it was hard, that I write rubbish, that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m a big fraud. But when the deadline became more serious than the fear, the writing took over and I had a ball. Words flowed messily on to the page. Characters showed up for adventure and romance. Mysteries deepened. And Lord knows what it all means. But as Nora Roberts is often quoted as saying: “I can fix a bad page, but I can’t fix an empty one.”
I no longer have empty ones. For that I’m so grateful that next November I’ll be signing up for NaNoWriMo madness all over again, even though it drives me potty with stress and fear and adrenaline.
Only next year I’ll be writing Book Three, because I’m setting myself a mid-year NaNoWriMo for Book Two. After all, if there’s one thing that NaNoWriMo proves, it’s that writing can happen every day, and 1,666 words is not really that many to churn out if you’re determined and steady and professional. And that’s the kind of writer I want to be.