Well November is over. We have counted our blessings and reminded ourselves why we don’t spend more time with family. We have also come to the end of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
I set forth into the month with excitement and plans (ever hear that joke, how do you make God laugh? Make a plan.) – with enthusiasm for the process of writing. I was going to conjure up extra time out of all that time I waste doing something other than writing and I was going to get on paper my fifteen hundred some odd words a day in order to have a novel at the end of the month. I was going to you may notice I have written. I woke up energized on the morning of November 1st and dutifully typed in the name of my novel with the brief synopsis and then made the first mistake of the month, I stopped because I didn’t know how to start and I said to myself, “I’ll think about it for a bit and it will come to me.” Ha Ha Ha!
It is now December 1st and I find that I participated in the portion of the project I like to call WriNo (Write No), because that is exactly what I did. Somewhere around day 7 I went to visit my page where I started at the synopsis and the title and realized that nothing had come to me yet and even I did not want to read the novel that was swirling about in my head. I worked up a few concepts for how it would go. I’m a bit of a planner and like organization so I spent my time on an outline and a thematic study. And it sucked. So I am now writing about the fact that I did not write, and yet I am a little celebratory in that I got closer to the novel than I have before. I also learned something about myself from just thinking about the novel, and that is that I’m not sure I really want to write a novel.
I know, that sounds like a lame excuse for not having actually got it done, “well I didn’t go to work because work is lame…” But I don’t think all novels are bad, I think they are fabulous and I think it is even more fabulous that someone other than me is writing them (for a variety of reasons of which quality is only one). The truth is that as I worked on the concept and toyed with the direction I wanted this to go I just found that I would much rather write more directly what I know than a veiled what I know, and let me tell you that was about as good as it was going to get: my life thinly obscured by other scenes and names.
There have been times when I have read a book and thought to myself, “good lord, someone received money to produce this drivel? Any idiot could do that!” Humility reaches us in all manner of interesting ways if we just pay attention to what the world is trying to tell us; the fact is that by spending even this little bit of time thinking about how I might write a novel I now have a much greater appreciation for the discipline, skill and creativity that it takes to actually get one out, regardless of the actual objective quality (with the exception of plagarizers who may have the discipline to put it together but lack entirely a moral code and should not be rewarded or commended at all). I have also been in many a book discussion where we question the skill of the writer who perhaps has produced just one great work, and I think now that this process of writing may not be something that is entirely learned (you do it once and then you can keep it up, getting better and better), maybe there is a creative well that lives in us and springs forth in different ways, and sometimes it springs forth with just enough for one amazing work. I know there are plenty of writers who produce work after work and they are consistently fabulous and fun, but I am thinking of great literature that has the staying power to move generations of readers beyond shear entertainment. These people who do this have a gift, and they may learn how to hone and control the gift or they may just sometimes be controlled by their own need to write, and we are all the beneficiaries.
What am I trying to say? Writing is not easy. I have greater respect for those whose writing I don’t care for but who have the discipline to sit and write anyway, and I am awed by those who produce works that teach us timeless lessons about the nature of life and humanity. It may have been a WriNo month for me, but I really enjoyed the idea of being a part of this fantastic creative collective (thank you Tracy for the inspiration to sign up), and now I have a whole year to think about the novel I’ll think about writing next year!