Thanksgiving came and left in a whirlwind. The actual day of was fairly calm and low key, but the organization of it all kept us running around for a while. The holiday season has officially been kicked off. Christmas music is being piped throughout the house on a fairly regular basis. Some of us-my sister-have gotten some Christmas shopping done, and things are getting festive. My sister just left with a car full of Christmas decorations for her house and of course, a few leftovers. My next courses start tomorrow, and I’ve gotten a little bit of knitting done.
And now I’m clearly stalling before I have to acknowledge NaNoWriMo.
This story is killing me. When I try to force it, like focusing on word count during NaNoWriMo, it just drips sluggishly onto the page, borrowing television tropes and awful literary clichés. I haven’t quit though. I used to take the forceful nature of my writing as a sign that I shouldn’t write, Clearly, if it’s so hard, it’s not something I’m ever going to be good at. But I keep picking it up again. It’s that I keep finding it again, keep starting over, despite the chorus of critics in my own head, that gives me hope that I can improve.
When I was a kid, I took piano lessons for a few years before asking my mom if I could quit. I liked the piano okay, but I hated the recitals, getting paraded around twice a year for grandparents and whoever else didn’t really want to hear a kid painstakingly playing Clair De Lune in a rec. center. Mom didn’t fight me on it, she let me quit and didn’t give me a hard time about it. When I asked her why a few years later, she reminded my of a childhood friend of ours. Whenever his family came over, he would somehow end up back at our piano. I didn’t love it like that. Our piano wasn’t included in my orbit. It made me self conscious. I only practiced when I was home alone.
Writing is my piano. I’m no better at writing stories than my friend was at picking out melodies-worse if I’m being honest, and he’s probably been trained since then. And there are times when my writing doesn’t feel as forced. Sometimes it flows out of my pen or keyboard easily, almost writing itself. Even then it isn’t all that good It’s not something that will ever be debated in a classroom by generations to come, but when I peruse a bookstore and see the cheesy murder mysteries with pun-filled titles, I think maybe this book can join their ranks. Maybe one day someone will buy my book at an airport and then lend it to their weird friend. A girl can dream.
I suspect I’ll be working on this book for years. Who knows if that means three to five, or decades like Helen Hooven Santmyer. But I like this story. It’s practically my friend by now. My irritating mess of a friend. And I’d like to finish it, and try to do something with it. I’ve spent so much time on it now – not including the thirteen years I’ve spent writing almost constantly on other random things – that I’d hate for nothing to ever come of it. I started it a year ago and it’s evolved and spread over documents and notebooks during that time, and while I’m not sure how much of it I really have, I know it’s far more than the 11,000 words I’ve scraped together this month. So as pathetic of an effort as this NaNoWriMo was, I’m still encouraged. Finals were hard and all-encompassing, and family can be demanding, but I know I can do this. I know I want to, anyway. And I want to start to make it a priority.