November is a magical month, when a Page’s thoughts turn to the number of words he can cram into a novel in just thirty days. Every November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Participants, like myself, have just the thirty days of the month to write a novel of at least 50,000 words.
Sure, there is an entire year to prepare, work through outlines, do character sketches. But, what do I do? I usually wait until the last minute and fly by the seat of my keyboard.
The first year I completed NaNoWriMo was 2012. I wrote a novel, a terrible thing (I can admit it, and with pride, it is terrible – like a highschool freshman trying to write like Bukowski or Palahniuk) called A Toothsome Crooked Grin. Really, it was bad. I knew it when I wrote it, but I thought I would still pursue it – albeit, in a very lazy & uneventful way. I entered a contest through Amazon.com to win a publishing deal. All participants had to come up with their Back of the Book Blurb. Here’s mine.
Mommy is a whore, Grandma has dementia and the stuffed hedgehog says the way to healing is through self-mutilation.
Joseph begins his story here, and he’s just a child. Walking through this open window he tells his life story – of scarring violence, empty relations and two-faced morals. Everyone in his life is affected from Sarah the school nurse to Thomas the awkward cohort, and even The Tooth Faery. This is not a story about revenge or redemption. This is simply the story of someone who has been broken.
The slums of California are the backdrop for this Coming of Rage story and full of vile sex, sin and extremes where no one is innocent. This is Joseph’s disturbing and sordid life, driven through his point of view and leaving very little to the imagination. This is a study of human nature that no one wants to admit to seeing, the downside of the coin on the bottom of the world.
Laughably bad, right?
Well, the novel isn’t any better.
The following year I began a new story – one that, unknown to me, would become a trilogy. But, I am no Martin, Tolkien, or Asimov. I began with the idea of the prompted journal entries of a madman in an asylum. And so, I began my second book and met Charlie. He is the opening voice of Dime Store Sycophant. The first book goes through a series of weird changes, points of view, and even crosses genres (terribly). It went on through two sequels – Dime Store Revisited and Dime Store Closing. Where the first novel changed from one genre to another, the following books took on lives of their own. Unfortunately for them, the first book isn’t as good as they are, – and, unfortunately for me, none of the three are worth the work of editing, re-drafting, and working towards publishing.
So, why do it?
Honestly? Because it is fun. It is a month where my entire focus is on creating something purely for fun! The part of me that focuses on this or that with music is set aside. This is the part of it that some of my friends find a bit out there – when I am working on my NaNoWriMo novel, I sit down with my computer and… I zone out. Seriously. I go into a place where my eyes are on the screen, my hands flying across the letters, but I don’t see it. My mind is somewhere else. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I suggest reading Shibumi by Trevanian – it’s something like that. Most times, I wait until around mid-October to read the previous year’s novel. It’s fun, I sometimes get surprised (or pissed off) by my own endings.
The point of all this is….
Are you ready for it?
I think everyone should take some time, now and then, to shut off from all the perfectionism, all the business, all the brushfire that is in our heads and our lives and create something just for the thrill of it, just for the fun of it.
“What could it hurt?” – Famous last words of characters in GoT, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, The Bible…