It’s the 31st October. Tomorrow I’m going to start a month long challenge – to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have no idea how it’s going to go. I might find it incredibly difficult, or incredibly easy. The book might be a joy or it might be a schmaltzy mess. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. I am not actually attempting this for the sake of the book. I have deliberately decided to write a back-story novel so that it will feed in to the books I have already written and make them better while at the same time not be available for anyone to read. It will just be for me!
OK, if it works really well and the book is a wonderful piece of literature then, by all means, I will edit and craft and make it beautiful and try to publish it but that is not why I am writing this month.
Let me explain the real reason I am attempting NaNoWriMo this year.
I have attempted to become more serious about writing a couple of times. Once was just before I started a post-doc in Sydney. I decided to use my spare time to write. I know this because I wrote my decision down and saved it to read later! But then, I got busy, work was hectic (here’s a thing, two 50% jobs do not equal one 100% job) and there was always something more important that needed to be done. Writing got squeezed out, squashed so far to the side that it disappeared. Life continued at break-neck pace for four years.
When I finished that post-doc I had a little more time up my sleeve and I started to write again. I read over what I had written and realised that I had allowed my dream to be squashed. I determined that I wouldn’t do that again. I became a little more serious and I put a little more time aside. I started writing in my evenings and weekends and whenever I had a day off. This, by the way, is why so many of my blog posts start with ‘It has been a beautiful day today…’
I was going to work part time this year and put the extra time into the writing. I had the full support of DH and it was going to be an easier year for me. But then, at the beginning of this year I got offered a little more teaching – just a little (‘just a little wafer’ to quote Monty Python) and that was enough to squeeze my writing back to a couple of evenings a week, and, of course some weekends and some days off. I didn’t have time to put a lot into it. I just had to fit it in when I could.
You see, there is always something more worthwhile to do. Something, for example, that will bring in money to help with family expenses. Or something that will bless the church or will help other people. Or some school event or community happening, or extra curricular work activity. There is always someone’s need to put in front of my own desire to write.
But if I’m ever going to publish a book, it needs first to be written! And then it needs to be crafted, rewritten, revised, I need to think about business type things, editors and copy editors and book cover designers and copyright and the list goes on. Every bit of this takes time. Time must be put aside for it.
And I’m beginning to think that writing is what I am called to do. This writing gig seems to suit me down to the ground. Imagine a job where you are alone for much of the time, where reading is a big part of the job description, where you get to play in your own imagination all day – I can’t imagine anything better. I’m starting to learn that not everyone has this great desire to live this lifestyle and that maybe this desire has been planted in me by God and that what I really should do is what I really want to do.
So. The reason I am attempting NaNoWriMo this month is that I hope that the externally assessed word count, the arbitrary deadline, and the encouragement of fellow writers in my online community, might just be enough to make me sit down each day for a couple of hours and write. It might just get me into the habit of writing every single day at a time other than last thing at night. I am hoping that I form work habits that will last, that I will realise that I can do my part time jobs and write too. That I will start to value this part of who I am enough to say ‘no’ to other requests and to put aside time to actually do it. That I will work out that the world can function without me running it and will give up on my false responsibilities.
People online have talked about ‘clearing their schedules’ and have said things like ‘I will write from 5am and then have an afternoon nap’ and neither of those things are possible for me. I will still be working all my part time jobs, I will still be going to church and visiting with family, and I am kidding myself if I think I will stay up late or rise early. But my extra teaching has finished and writing has moved up my priority list and we’ll see how we go.
I’m pretty excited. I think I will have fun. Here we go!