Here’s what you can expect from the interruptingcow blog in November. No more “reblogs” this month. You’ll find quick reads each day by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). That means that each day I will post the best sentence or small passage from the previous day’s word count. It also means some of it won’t make much sense because you won’t necessarily be getting it in chronological or even contextual form. Since first drafts are hideous, I’m sure there were be various forms of disclaimers scattered throughout the month, but I will try to refrain.
Each day’s post will not necessarily relate to one another. I will simply select what I believe is the best structured or lyrical offering for your reading pleasure. That’s it. So you’ll still have to buy the book to get the real storyline sometime in 2016 perhaps. Here’s how I arrived at this plan:
Press the button on my phone and the picture of M and I tells me it’s 9:30pm. I’ve just spent three hours (interspersed with the occasional Trick-or-Treater at the door) reading up on some basic writing instruction to reign in my thoughts for the NaNoWriMo. I began this journey in search of a basic “one-size-fits-all” method for outlining a story idea and creating a timeline.
I had this great idea – if only I could string up some master plan on my wall, maybe this year would be different. Maybe instead of becoming bored out of my mind with my story by the 15th of the month, I will have the ability to jump around on the timeline and develop the characters like I want. Maybe that will help me avoid worrying about where I’m going with that morning’s offerings. But alas, no particular methodology tore itself from the pages and invaded me like a ghost, speaking through me of its long lost efficiency in a Russian accent.
Instead, I got frustrated quickly with the different styles I read about how to write. “Get to the flipping’ point,” I yelled while trampling through one popular writer’s garden of nostalgia and memoir-style ramblings before she finally said, “There is no point.” And that’s just it. There really isn’t. I’m leaving a job I know inside and out for this dream of writing. The closer I get, the more it feels like a shadowy woods filled with howls and cracking limbs, with no clear footpath drawing me toward . . . something.
“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.” So says Gertrude Stein, and I’m beginning to realize this as truth. There is no point but to write. There may be a partial path that you can cut back with your machete and trudge through for a bit, but eventually you hit a rock wall or some other obstacle. If you can’t climb it or cross it, you have to leave that trail you’ve built completely and start from the perimeter again until you can clear a path to the center.
Oh sure, you can try to double back halfway and head in again from the same trail. But you risk ending up with a series of mazes that never lead to the conclusion. You hope that the center is what you think it is. You hope it will bring the relief and joy, or the depth and meaning you imagine exists there. But for all you know, you risk sweat and tears just to get to a clearing with a simple little sign that reads, “Congratulations – you made it. Good luck on your next hike.” Son of a …
So begins my third NaNoWriMo attempt. The first time was a whim. I wasn’t aware that without planning, dedication, and stamina you can’t actually write anything that fast (much less anything of worth). The second time I was more prepared but ADD and writer’s block drop-kicked me out of the game and then, like the 5Ks I’ve run, I quit trying so hard when I saw the finish line. I couldn’t face all that effort amounting to less than a hill of beans when I broke the cardinal rule of first drafts and began reading it over and over again. “Crap. Pure crap.” And that was that.
Now I’m wiser. I know first drafts are supposed to be crap. I know that writing stamina and the rudimentary “word count” is half the battle. I trust in product and content – and the final plot stability or literary value be damned at this point. I will write. This month. Each day. I will not stop until I’ve reached my selected word count (even if that means I dip into December). Afterward, I will drop that puppy into a drawer for six months and forget about it. In May or June I’ll get started on sculpting. Whatever will be, will be.