Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is the Definition of Crazy Ever to Do Something Different?

I was studying at Denver Seminary when I first stumbled across NaNoWriMo. This semi-acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's this crazy internet endeavour to get a bunch of writing freaks to churn out 50,000 words of unedited fiction between November 1 and November 30. At the time, I thought it sounded cool, but I also thought I was in grad school, and I probably was also in the process of packing up my life to move back East. (Unless it was earlier in the year. In which case I was having personal problems and might not have had the emotional stamina for such an endeavour anyway.) So I sat there for a minute, imagined how much crazier my life would be if I signed on, said, "Nah," and probably shut down the computer. Or sent an email. Or wrote a paper. Or something. I didn't even have a blog back then.

I'm fairly sure NaNoWriMo crossed my mind at some point in the next three years, but I know I never returned to the site. Then I started this blog, and met other people through their blogs (or, as in the case of Scott, sort of got reintroduced) and then suddenly I knew people who actually did the NaNoWriMo thing. (A Musing Mom and Scott are the two who come to mind, but if you're a blogging buddy and a Wrimo and I'm leaving you out, please register your dudgeon (not dungeon) in the comments).

After that, every November someone I knew was talking about NaNoWriMo, and people like A Musing Mom have kids even, and I felt really wussy for never taking on the challenge. But I just couldn't, you know? You don't really get enough sleep as an up-at-3.45a.m. Starbucks employee anyway. And what do you do about Thanksgiving? And how about, you know, a social life?

Plus, although it has occurred to me that if I just sat down and started writing whatever came into my head for 30 days, it might be interesting to see what happened, I haven't had any story ideas in years. Ever since Trees, people have been asking me, "What are you writing now?" And the truthful answer is that all I have are two stalled novels, one of which has been stalled for eight years and the other for five. Even though, over the summer, I had a sudden and uncharacteristic burst of motivation and sent out a bunch of proposals to literary agents (after I found out the one I had was fraudulent) for one of them, I haven't heard anything back from any of them and that, my friends, is not a good sign.

At some point a few weeks ago, I had the fleeting thought that I should try NaNoWriMo this year; for one thing, I'm not a Starbucks employee anymore. And for a little while I thought I might be up for surgery again (who knows? I still might); what better way to spend recuperation time (besides, you know, working from home) than to churn out words? But then I remembered I'd probably be starting a Semlink course at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and so I'd probably be spending my recuperation time working on that.

Then suddenly, within the last two days, I've had a new story idea. I think a bunch of people have wondered whether I'd get a novel out of my cancer experience. I wondered about the same thing. But I'll bet none of us imagined the kind of idea I just got for it. I've been mulling over the concept of chemotherapy and how opposed to it I've become, and how Weapon of Mass Destruction on a Microcosmic Scale it seems, and suddenly I had a fantasy novel going on in my head instead of a "young woman survives (or doesn't) the ravages of cancer" story. Hmm, I thought. Too bad I'll be taking Semlink courses soon. And then this morning I found out the scholarship the church was planning on using to fund my education has already been disbursed this year, so I have to wait until sometime next year anyway. And so all of a sudden, at four o'clock this afternoon, I found myself registering for NaNoWriMo. Yikes.

Fifty thousand words sounds like a lot. But the powers that be over at that site say this:

Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

I suspect this is true. So I'm telling you.

7 comments:

Tina said...

GO GO GO GO !!! We will hold you to it - I am in the front of the cheering section!

judy said...

you can do it ;)

The Sixes said...

So there's a tenth muse now? Odd for the Greeks not to recognize such an important contributor to the arts...

Young Christian Woman said...

Up until the "tell everyone you know you're writing a novel" I was thinking of trying it with you... Don't know if I could do it but I might be willing to try.

I haven't written too much in a very long time, and any ideas I have are very nebulous indeed. Something like "What would a Christian pro-life science fiction universe look like?"

But all this signing up and telling people. That's like commitment and stuff.

Stacey said...

Funny, I haven't written ANYTHING for like two years now and I just woke up on Sunday morning and felt inspired. So I went up into my super cool attic and wrote a little on a short story I've had laying around for a long time. It's no novel in November, but hurray we're writing!!!

Jennwith2ns said...

Tina and Judy--thanks for being my cheerleaders. *Somebody's* got to be optimistic around here. ;)

Sixes--I know, huh?

YCW--your comment made me laugh. You're so right! (I suspect this is why I never signed up before.)

Stacey--yay, us! (What's your story about?)

Stacey said...

Well it's a fantasy story based on a picture from one of my favorite books ever.
http://www.amazon.com/Mysteries-Harris-Burdick-Chris-Allsburg/dp/B001IAY994/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256780080&sr=8-2

Probably just a silly short story but kinda fun to do any.

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