National Novel-Writing Month. Everybody’s talking about it. Everybody’s blogging about it. So I thought I’d better write something about it, just in case somebody has passed a law while I wasn’t watching and failure to comment on NaNoWriMo is punishable by death.
You can’t be too careful.
So, am I doing it?
No. I thought about it, I really did. Then I thought again, and decided that I didn’t have time.
Maybe next year, although maybe not. I live in a world of deadlines as it is, why would I want one more? Also, my poor novel (proto-novel; and it’s been that way for more years than I want to admit to in public) has been going on for so long that I don’t want to shock it by demanding that much activity of it all at once. It might have a heart attack and die, and then where would I be? That novel has been my constant companion since girlhood. It knows me better than my husband does.
My novel has changed out of all recognition since I first started it, but then, so have I. I’ve grown upwards and outwards (characterwise, I hasten to add. Not in dress size. Or, unfortunately, height). Characters have changed names and changed, well, character. Sometimes slightly, sometimes completely. Some characters have been added, some have been deleted. The writing style has changed, too. I hope it’s improved. If it hasn’t, I’m in trouble.
I always wanted to write, but I was a very, very practical child. I wanted a job that would earn money, guaranteed money, even if it didn’t promise fame. I may have made a mistake on the type of job, but I’m trying to rectify that now. But even if I don’t manage to, I’ve still got my career.
But I’ve decided that if I’m going to write, I need to actually get down and do it, seriously. It’s all very well to talk about it, and dream about it, but the time comes when you have to either put up or shut up. Career-wise as well as book-wise, this is my year for the leap into the dark.
But NaNoWriMo is not the right sort of thing for me. Not only do I have other deadlines in November, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write 1700 words every day for a month. My novel (future novel) has been in progress for so long now that there doesn’t seem to be much sense in rushing it. I don’t care about quick; I want it done right.
When I’ve finished, I want to be proud of it. Even if it only sells three copies, all to people with the same surname as me, I want to know it was the best I could possibly do (although naturally I would like it to be a runaway bestseller that catapults me to instant fame and fortune). If it totally fails, then I shall know that I did my very best, and I did not make the cut. That my skills as an author were weighed, measured, and found wanting.
But I will know.
If I rush my novel, trying to hurry it through its extremely slow gestation (it’s not a book about elephants, but possibly it ought to be), then it will probably be less than my best. And if I publish it, and it fails, then what will I know?
I will know that my book that took me cough-cough years to write, and which I finished in a hurry, bombed. But I will not know whether it is because I do not have it in me to write well, or because I did not take the time to make it my very best effort.
In order to find that out, I will have to write another novel, and this time, make it my best effort.
This does not seem to me to be an efficient use of time, let alone a fitting fate for my faithful, neglected, much-revised, long-suffering first novel. The poor thing deserves more respect from me than that, after all the help and satisfaction it has given me over the years.
So, no. I will not be taking part in National Novel-Writing Month. I wish the very best of good luck, and happy writing, to those who do. But I will not be joining them.