Needed: 1 Smoke Grenade, 1 Helicopter, and Motivation

A smoke grenade, a gas mask, and a helicopter…that’s all I ask. ~from “Calvin and Hobbes”

Hey, guys, I found us a helicopter

NaNoWriMo, thus far, is teaching me some very important life lessons. I’m not talking about looking both ways before I cross the street, or always wearing my seatbelt. Nope, these lessons are much deeper than that.

The one that jumps out is how much time I actually have during the day. Because I only have one job and don’t have to take care of kids, pets, or relatives, I pretty much have all the time I could want or need to write a decent book in one month. I’ve also found out that I possibly have the world’s worst case of ADD to go along with AS (would that be ADDAS? Like Adidas, I wonder?) The concept of sitting down and writing just under 2000 words each day sounds easy enough. I’ve proved I can write between 500 and 1000 words on P&Q every day if I have to. It’s the execution that’s so hard. As of right now, roughly midway through the month, I’m sitting at just under 10,000. Waaaay behind, in other words.

Every writer uses this line, I'm sure

The other hard truth that’s staring me in the face? Maybe I’m not cut out to be a novelist. Novels involve the creation of entirely new characters, interesting settings for them to inhabit, esoteric symbols to be held out like carrots (if you remember the damn green light from The Great Gatsby, raise your hand.) Not to mention I have to worry about subconsciously swiping someone else’s ideas. I do eventually want to write a novel. I’m just not sure the one I picked for NaNoWriMo is the right one.

I also ask myself why I’m attempting this crazy experiment in the first place. It’s not to impress anyone, like my friends or my fantasy literary agent, or even to prove a point to myself. Maybe it was just another notch on my bucket list, like riding an elephant or bungee-jumping off a suspension bridge. I’m still not sure. If I finish the damn thing by some miracle, perhaps at the end I’ll know.

The strangest thing this month is what I’ve been doing in lieu of writing. I’ve (gasp!) cleaned out my closets, dyed my own hair, put together a donation bundle for the less fortunate, gone to work out more often. These are tasks that were, before, at the very bottom of my priorities list. Disinfect my fridge before writing? Any other month I’d have said it was mental.

I do have to keep telling myself that writing is not a race, nor a competition. If I don’t finish that nice round 50K by November 30, it’s all right. Nobody’s going to tell me what a horrible, unmotivated writer I am, or come and steal my Chuck Taylors in the dead of night as a blood tribute. I won’t lose the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize I’d so looked forward to putting on my mantel next to my commemorative Budweiser steins. And I won’t have to give speeches or meet crazy fans who want me to have their babies.  I breathe a sigh of relief.

That could have been my book

I’m going to borrow a page from Aesop here and remind myself that slow and steady does indeed win the race. Who cares if I cross that 50K line at the end of this month or sometime next year? I know I’ll get there eventually and when I do, I’ll have a rough draft to eviscerate, slash and burn as I see fit. I know the first draft of anything is crap; that’s not what worries me.

What really worries me is that I might actually be successful. You know, a published novelist one day instead of a fairly anonymous blogger with an even more anonymous day job.

That, muchachos y muchachas, is the scariest thing of all. No smoke grenades or helicopters required.

Holy unfinished manuscript, Batman!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on November 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “Needed: 1 Smoke Grenade, 1 Helicopter, and Motivation”

  1. It sounds as though the process of NaNoWriMo–the day in and day out of applying your energies to your commitment–may prove to be quite enlightening.

  2. Fear of success can be more demotivating than fear of failure 🙂 But finishing nano doesn’t make you a famous novelist! So don’t panic 🙂 I found it gave me confidence in my ability to write more words in a shorter time than I believed I could. I feel only a tiny bit closer to the goal of being a novelist. I never finished the story… That’s the only drawback to a goal of 50k. I reached the goal and stopped dead 🙂

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abandonen toda esperanza aquellos que entren aqui


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