November is coming, and we all know what that means. Halloween candy binges. Christmas decorations everywhere. Frantic preparations for a gigantic holiday feast. Men growing facial hair to raise awareness about their prostates. And writers everywhere going insane trying to finish a novel in a month.
Which one of these am I going to be doing?
I don’t like candy, and I don’t have a prostate.
So this leaves me with a dilemma—decorate for Christmas and feed my family on Thanksgiving, or write a novel.
Sadly, I can’t do it all. That’s my biggest problem with National Novel Writing Month. They couldn’t put it in August, the one month with no national holidays? A month more than one hundred days away from the holiday frenzy?
But what about that great idea I’ve been working on? How will I ever get it done?
I suppose there are other ways to write a novel—the one day at a time method. Two pages a day. Take a year to write it and a year to revise it. But, part of me thrills, if you do NaNo, the novel will be done on November 30th!
Don’t believe the hype. NaNo is a slog. It is the ultramarathon of literary grinds. Especially for slow writers such as myself. Maybe there are people who thrive on the challenge, just like there are
sickos people out there who love to run 100 mile races (you know who you are, and you know you’re crazy, even if you’re going to live fifty years longer than I am).
I ran a ten mile race once. It felt great—up until mile five. Then it was like pounding nails into my knees for the last half, and I limped over the finish line and collapsed in a heap. I sat in the car for the five hour drive back home, and couldn’t walk without pain for a week. You should have trained for it, people said. Oh, I did, I argued. And I’m convinced the training is what set me up for failure. My knees were running low on their warranty to begin with, and I used up all their miles in the weeks before the race.
There’s no training for NaNo. You can plan and outline, of course. But you’re not allowed to start your novel ahead of time—that’s considered “cheating.” But when winning is the equivalent of printing of a certificate that says “You win,” who’s keeping score? If the goal is to have a novel by the end of it, I say do whatever it takes.
I’m not going to risk a repeat of what happened with my ten mile race, though. No way—no ice packs and ibuprofen for this girl. No training. No pre-writing. Not because it would be cheating, but because it would wear me out. I’m going to eeeeeease into NaNo.
Today, I’m going to consider signing up. (I want to, I do. There’s the euphoria of starting…of hitting 10,000 words…and then the crush of realizing you’ve stared at your computer for an hour and only typed three sentences. GRRR!!!)
Tomorrow, I might actually look at the website. (But the camaraderie! The pep talks! Hitting the halfway point!)
Maybe by next week, come November 1st, I’ll actually do it. I wouldn’t want to risk burning out too soon. (Like when you realize you’re three quarters through your novel…and you have no idea where to take your plot next.)
But if you see me putting up Christmas decorations and baking pumpkin pies before Halloween, you’ll know why. (I know I put that box of ornaments somewhere down here…)