Almost a month ago now, a friend asked me if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. My response:
"Honestly, I don't know. Every time I think about NaNoWriMo, I always ask the same question: Where in my day will I find the time? In order for me to do it, something will have to give."
My writing comes in spurts. There are times when the heart races and the muse flows like a raging river. Then there are days when I have to touch a finger to the neck to see it’s time to offer up a eulogy and throw on the dirt. There are moments when the stories (usually micro fiction) are ready after only a day. As the saying goes, those are few and far between. Mostly, my stories are like children. They take months building muscles in order to stand on their own.
Suffice it to say, the thought of committing to an average of fifty thousand words in thirty days (or an average of 1,666.7 words, which equals approximately 6-1/2 pages per day) not only scares me, it freaks me out—especially when I consider that I have a job to do, a family to spend time with, household chores to maintain, as well as other obligations that take up more time in my week. Not only that, but whoever put this whole NaNoWriMo thing together could have picked a better month. Hello? Did someone forget that minor holiday called Thanksgiving? If you carve out a couple more days from the program, then the Per Diem quota increases. For an accountant like me, that's not hard to figure.
Again: In order for me to do this, something else will have to give.
But what if I make the sacrifice and pour on the water and the fire never comes? The way the muse has treated me lately—like I were some third-rate lover, who’s only value is to pacify the lonely hours during the week when all the other lovers can’t be reached—I worry that I’ll get a week into this, and then realize I have been abandoned with nothing else to guide me. No divining rod telling me where to dig. No compass pointing me in the right direction. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
So, for me it’s more than just a sacrifice during NaNoWriMo. It’s also a current sacrifice. I have to spend time now, thinking and planning and making notes. I can't leave it to fate, waking up each morning during November, trusting that I'll sit at the computer and the words will magically flow. That means there is less time right now for reading. It's also time to fold up my short-story polishing rag and tuck it away in drawer somewhere. It means going to bed earlier and waking up when the stars are still shining bright in the sky. And on and on…
The only reason I’m still considering NaNoWriMo is that I’m tired of feeling like the black-sheep, drop-out kid whose only accomplishment in life amounts to asking: “Paper or plastic?” Over the last couple of years, I have made a few attempts at a novel, only to see them flop in the dirt like a dying fish. And that makes me angry. I should be able to finish a novel. I have to finish a novel. There has to be more.
Will I be able to write the novel in thirty days? That is a big question, for which I don’t yet have an answer. I know I want to. I know I’m starting to make the sacrifices right now in order to see if I can. Only time, planning, and effort will determine the outcome. If I don't, or if for time and family I can't, at least I’ll have a nice framework to build my novel upon. That may be just a consolation prize, but it will certainly be more than the unfulfilled dream I currently hold in my hand.