NaNoWriMo – The Quest

So…I basically set out on a quest of epic proportions on Nov. 1: to write a 50,000 word novel draft in 30 days or less. It’s a seemingly unattainable goal for an already crazy busy month: I mean, we’ve got Thanksgiving, travel soccer tournaments in other states, professional development days at work, the hubby starting a new job, and the start of Christmas shopping to think of. Hopefully, though, although the bar is set high, and seems out of reach, it’s one I can stretch myself to grab.I’ve been out of the daily writing habit for quite a while now, and I’m using this NaNoWriMo challenge as a kind of self-imposed boot camp to get back in. Truth is, I’m lazy and I’ll procrastinate without a clearly defined goal at the end. With no taskmaster but myself, I’ll quit. If I’m going to persist, it can’t be just any goal I’m working toward or I’ll certainly give up…it has to be a goal I feel like striving for. A goal that means something to me. In this case, it has to be something like a life’s dream quest that I’d abandoned years ago, but have felt was something I’d HAVE to complete in my lifetime, albeit in some nebulous “someday.”

Unfortunately, I started the Nano quest with a kind of attitude that immediately rationalized failure. “Eh, if I can get to even half of the word count, I’ll be happy” and “It’s just practice, but maybe it will help me get in the habit, so it really doesn’t matter if I give up before the end” and “All I will write is crap anyway, so it’s just a fun way to spend some time; it doesn’t matter if I can’t get there” and “Oh, my life is too busy, etc. etc.” These were all the excuses I found myself saying OUT LOUD to others to justify my failure before I’d even begun! These are the ways I was  sabotaging my own success.

What I’ve found though, almost a week into NaNoWriMo, is that in the daily slog to meet word count, I’ve discovered a reawakening of my love of writing. The way words somehow come together in my brain and speak to me, begging for an outlet, is hard to ignore. In a way, I’ve silenced my own internal critic because I’ve acknowledged that these are not words I intentionally plan. I realized I can’t be judged for someone else’s words; and these are definitely not the words created by my own conscious self. They’re nagging voices of characters pleading with me to tell their stories, arguing with each other as they fight for a chance to be heard.

I’m not the writer: I’m just the fingers that put these fictional people’s conversations, conflicts, and heartbreaks onto the computer screen. And there is no room for self-doubt, excuses, or laziness when it comes to telling a stranger’s story. Instead, I have the obligation, the frenetic need, to get the words recorded for their sakes, and not my own. I’ve been released from personal ownership and have given it over to my characters. And somehow, this makes the stakes higher. I may want to take a nap, need to clean the house, or have other work to do, but I CAN’T let these other people down. It might sound crazy, but I HAVE to finish the story because I have to let my created friends tell what they need to tell. I’m the only one who can do this for them.

Beginning today, Sunday with an extra DST hour thrown in, I’ve got almost 1/5 of the writing down (that’s the minimum goal for today – 10,000 words), and while it’s been hard, I’m feeling no signs or desires to stop yet! I’ve heard Week 2 is the hardest…let’s see if that proves to be true. MY Nano motto: MY SOMEDAY IS TODAY! Wish me luck!

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