I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. I have done this insanity in the past. I’ve even been successful at reaching or surpassing the 50,000 word goal more than once. It’s been a blessing and a curse, really. On the blessing side of the spectrum, my past NaNo experiences have caused a creative and writing frenzy. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as listening to your fingers clacking across the keyboard as you write with giddy abandon. On the curse side … Well, I have to admit my giddy abandon usually doesn’t survive past the month of November. In my younger years, I think it would have. But, as I am now, it ends up being one month of giddy abandon followed by eleven months of sitting around and obsessing over how much I suck.
Writing used to be an escape for me. My “Great Escape”, even. For all intents and purposes, I was a happy and well-adjusted kid. Anyone who knew me or met me in my daily life back then pegged me for fairly cheerful, painfully responsible, and, perhaps, a bit too quiet. I used to hear “You should smile more!” a lot. A LOT. In reality, I wasn’t particularly happy. I don’t know if I qualified as well-adjusted, but I do know I wasn’t happy. I hid it well, behind things like being cheerful and painfully responsible. I wasn’t free to express my feelings or to dream and try new things. I had to keep everything all to myself, hidden down deep inside for fear I would be mocked. Or, even worse, that nothing I had to say and nothing I had to feel would be taken seriously. I was good at being invisible. This is where writing came in and saved me. In my writing, I could dream. I could be anyone I wanted. I could explore and feel and hope. I could be visible.
It seems writing isn’t that thing for me any longer. Instead of my escape, it has become my prison. I avoid it, day after day, feeling guilty and low for doing so. The words don’t come easily to me any longer. The stories still live in my head, but they are shrouded in dust and fog now. Writing isn’t alive for me any more. I’m just … tired. I feel small and awful and beaten down by life. I have good days, where things seem hopeful and grand. But, mostly, I feel tired. I feel like a shell of the person I used to be, of the person I want to be. I want my escape back, to a certain extent. I want moments where I can feel, well, REAL. I want my world to have color, instead of the drab same-ness it has become.
And so, this year’s NaNo … I hadn’t planned on giving it a go. For the past two or three years, I haven’t been able to summon up the interest to give it a try. I love the giddy writing part. But the let-down that I have experienced in the months after didn’t feel worth it to me. Maybe I’m not a writer. Maybe I have to come to terms with that and let it go. I don’t want to, but is this a realistic way for me to feel? I mean, am I just clinging onto something I want to be true, when it isn’t true?
I don’t know. And I don’t expect NaNo will answer any of those questions for me. I don’t expect it will lead to some creative renaissance on my part. With the way it’s going so far, I don’t even expect it to be fun. Although I have a start to my story, the past couple of days have been filled with adulting things: doctors’ appointments for my Child Unit, a vet visit for one of my dogs, anxiety over potential life changes, worry over my elderly parents, Halloween (although this isn’t in November, but it takes a toll), grocery store runs, dry cleaning, and errands of all kinds. I’ve hardly been home for more than an hour at a time. It’s been hard for me to clear my mind so that I can think about my potential story in any meaningful fashion. The words are slow to come, and they feel clumsy and awkward, like bashful eighth graders at their first school dance. I haven’t yet tapped into the part of my brain that lets me write without second-guessing myself. Maybe it will come. I hope it will come, if I keep slogging along.
Mainly, I decided to jump into NaNo again this year because my Child Unit is doing it. She wanted me to participate, too. If you’re a parent of a teenager, you will know this for a universal truth: If your teen wants to do anything at all with you, you will do it. Without question. Because they are mostly all about putting distance between themselves and their parents at this age. This is natural, and I know it’s natural. But it still hurts like H-E-Double-Toothpicks.
At this point, we are officially two days into the madness, and I am already woefully behind. If I were running on my self-imposed schedule, I should have around 3,400 words by day 2. I might have 1,000. Maybe. If I turn my head to one side and squint at the page hard enough. It’s looking rather bleak. It’s feeling rather bleak. A big part of me wants to throw the mother of all hissy fits, flinging papers all around my writing space and tearing pages from my Moleskine.
But you know what? It might look bleak. And it might feel bleak. It might feel damn near impossible at this moment in time. I don’t have three thousand words. This is true. But what I do have is this: a beginning. A brand new beginning, for a brand new story. Maybe that’s what NaNo is all about. At any rate, it’s a good enough reason to keep calm and write on!