“Why on Earth would you do that to yourself?” is a fairly typical response I receive when I tell people that I’m preparing – for the second time – to attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days.
It’s a fair question.
Why would I do that to myself? As of mid-October, I’m staring down the barrel of a November filled with sleepless nights, numb fingers and endless, looping sentences.
A bit of background, for those who don’t know: November is National Novel Writing Month, often referred to as NaNoWriMo. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people – from pre-teenage girls to graying high school teachers – attempt to finish an entire novel in the time between 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1 and 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30.
Everyone has their own reasons for participating, I suppose. For me, well, it’s a multi-faceted response.
Over the next few weeks, I will be asking myself time and time again the reason why I’m putting myself through this. But the answer, really, is simple. It’s a matter of perseverance. The way I see it, if I can accomplish this task, I can do nearly anything.
The writing process is rarely a pretty one, but when you add in the element of a time restraint, on top of a full course load, a 25-hour a week job, and attempts at a social life from time to time, it sounds like something only a madman would attempt.
But that’s exactly it.
See, if I can manage to pin down 50,000 semi-coherent words to form a story, for better or worse, that’s a big old check off the bucket list. And a lot of proof to remind myself about later. Because I know it will be priceless to be able to stop and think, “Look what you accomplished already. Look what you’ve done with your life.”
I know as acutely as any human being that life is not simple. It’s difficult and complicated and messy as all great things are. But to know exactly what you are capable of, to know that you can overcome the odds because you’ve done it before, that’s what gets you through the tough stuff.
So this is what I will remind myself of as I adjust the sign on my door that reads, “Do not disturb, novelization in progress,” and as I practice my “Ellen” interview in the shower (for when I’m a bestseller, of course), and as I scribble character traits and dialogue on the back of my algebra homework.
It’s worth it to know that I’m doing something that means so much to me.