Only two more days until NaNoWriMo kicks off and 200,000+ writers crawl into a hole only to emerge 30 days later with 50,000 words and severe hand cramps. I don’t want to do this anymore.
Self-doubt and fear of failure have my thoughts in a choke-hold. I have 16 drafts in my folder here on This Is My Corn. Every single one of them is absolute total crap. I think crap. I write crap. I publish crap. It’s all crap.
Except it’s not. I know I’m not a bad writer, for crying out loud. I even consider myself, gasp, a good writer. I even have proof with three Freshly Pressed nods to my name, and have thanked other bloggers for further recommendations. Kind-hearted friends remind me I have a talent. Awed strangers tell me I have a way with words. My exceptionally excellent writer of a Mom has sincerely shared that she is proud to have a daughter who is a better writer than her (thanks! Mom, but you’ve still got me beat).
I know this story. I know these characters. I know the city they live in and the homes they occupy. I know where they start out and where they end up. I have a sympathetic protagonist and an appalling antagonist with enough flip-flopping on the love/hate relationship to keep them and the reader engaged. I have trajectory and conflict and a full-cycle hero’s journey. I hope to leave people breathless in the first chapter, only to pull that back and reverse it so slyly and so well that readers fall into the same wormhole as the characters.
It’s just that I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s an unknown.
My hands start to sweat when I see the word count creep towards 1000. And now I’m going to double that every day for a month? I must be crazy. Who am I to think I have anything worth writing? Except I do or that damn Marybeth would have quit talking to me by now.
I’ve regrettably shared with a few people, in various beer-induced conversations, that I intend to take up this challenge. Inevitably they ask what the book will be about, and I answer that it will be about the exact same thing every other book in the history of books has been about – an internal and an external struggle must be resolved simultaneously and against outside forces so the protagonist can restore peace to her life. Because being any more specific than that general statement might encourage further questioning. Don’t make me talk about it, criminy; it’s bad enough that I actually think I can do this.
A lot of us think we can do this. There are forums and coaches and groups galore to support writers as we embark on insanity. I’ve not reached out to make any connections over in the NaNo forums. I’ve stalked them, believed them, doubted them, and walked away shaking my head and rubbing my temples. I skipped the Atlanta kick-off get-to-know-you, swap stories, and make wordy wordy love party last weekend, and I’m entirely sure I won’t attend any of the write-ins. Are you kidding me? Social interaction with other novelists while battling an inferiority complex isn’t going to happen. Not no way. Not no how.
Yeah yeah yeah, write-ins are about writing, but they’re still in public, with people, other people writing novels who surely know more than me.
I can’t do this. I don’t have the skills. I don’t have the knowledge. I don’t have enough procrastination tactics planned out.
Except that I can do this. I will do this. I’m a do or do not kind of person. Once I commit, I finish, and I’ve already committed – to myself, to you, to NaNo, and to my characters. It would be a whole lot easier to give up now and avoid facing the coming failure, but easy doesn’t get things done and there is no failure, or at least not failure as I imagine it. I can get to the word count. What the hell else do I have to do every day? You know, besides working, sleeping, eating, exercising, and saving the world. What I fear failing is the quality, but this isn’t preparing a publication ready manuscript. This is a first draft and all the messy and ugly that comes with it. Squiggly lines be damned.
And when this is all over, I will have the skills, the knowledge, and the procrastination tactics for next year.
Ha! Like I’m really going to do this again.
And really, couldn’t I just type “the” 50,000 times and call it experimental fiction? See? I’ll figure a way out of this one way or another.