National Novel Writing Month is less than a week away. In six days, people from around the world will start their goal to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. That’s around 1,666 per day. That’s a lot of words. That’s a competition wherein you compete against yourself to see if you can do it.
I’ve managed to win every year since I started back in 2011. That’s five years of writing. That’s 260,137 words that I have tallied since I first discovered it on November 1st of that first year. I logged on to my computer at around 6:30 in the morning, saw NaNoWriMo on the trending box on Yahoo, and decided to investigate. I’m glad I did.
A little history: I had always wanted to write a book. How many of us have said that, either to our friends, or even to ourselves. I had countless times. I even started several aborted attempts, giving up even before I had written that first page, often even before that first paragraph. Writing is hard!
But that on that cold, November morning, as I sat there glued to the monitor at my desk at my work in the hospital, I knew that I had to do it. I needed something to take me out of myself, to pull me out of the pain and loathing I had fallen into. My marriage had unraveled back in January, ending in my filing for divorce and being finalized in August. A second relationship had just fallen apart at the beginning of October, and the weight of it all came crashing down on me. I was heartbroken and miserable. I needed a way out!
So I signed up immediately. I told my friend about it, and she signed up for it, too. Unlike her, I began to write in earnest, writing with abandon, not bothering to care if it made sense. NaNoWriMo gave me the permission I needed to give myself to write, just write. I watched as a story came to life. I sat there in shock that I actually had the potential to write anything longer than a few measly paragraphs.
I came is at 52,395 that first year. I was proud of myself. I had done it. Though it would take months, years to get over that heartbreak, NaNoWriMo had given me my first outlet. I spent the next year writing one story after another, clearing my mind, purging my soul. It was the catharsis I desperately needed. The page was the vessel into which I poured my misery, emptying even the most desperate and intimate suffering from my being.
I had planned on publishing my books, but I haven’t. I keep saying I want to, but here I am, five years later, and nary a book in sight. I keep saying that what I have written deserves to be read, but I’ve kept them locked up, out of sight, fearing to let myself fall victim to the worst critics among us, scared to inflict further damage on my already fragile self-esteem.
But what did it matter? I’d written something. I had proven to myself that I can do it. I had proven that I had the capability to put into words the often confused images in my thoughts. It hadn’t been easy. Sometimes I had to force myself to write, but I had done it, and I was glad.
Will I do so again this year? I think I will. I haven’t fleshed out any ideas yet, but that doesn’t concern me. I’ve always been a pantser rather than a planner. I’ll start to write the moment I’m allowed to write. I settle on an idea and go from there.
Ultimately, I would love to publish something, but that’s no longer my end goal. When I write something worth sharing, I will. Until then, I’ll continue to write and post the occasional short story, continue to hammer out what I’ve written, working and reshaping until something moves me to either seek out a publisher, or publish it myself.
Well said Joe. I’ve seen a number of your short stories and you’ve got the talent for writing. And when you’ve done a book you feel worthy of publishing, you’ll have a number of people (myself included) waiting to grab up the first copies.
Keep writing and doing what makes you feel good.
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