It’s National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. This means that all across the globe on the dawning of November 1st, eager writers are facing the blank page with fear and trepidation, determination and fortitude. 50,000 words in 30 days. No looking back, no one left behind, no excuses. It’s a gruelling fire-walk toward a novel. And it works. If you can write 1600 words a day. The trouble of it is that you have to start with the first. Word. On the blank screen.
This is my fourth Nano, and I have three published novels to show for my previous efforts. I know I can do this. So why, when I woke at 5am this morning to pursue my normal writing regimen, why did I make a coffee, let the dogs out, check facebook, check email, sweep up the debris around the fireplace (yes, in Canada we have already started burning things for warmth), change the font settings on my computer, go outside and stand in the windy dark pondering the universe, tap the keys indecisively on my keyboard, decide to write about how hard it is to write… anything but start that first word? I have a first chapter already written. I have a loose outline. I have a plot with a tsunami and an epic voyage and nudist grandparents. I have my weiner dog on my lap. I have metaphors, dammit. So why am I writing a blog about how hard it is to start writing, instead of starting to write?
The Inner Voice, man. That damn bitch of an Inner Voice is running her blood red fingernails up and down my ego, playing timpani rhythms that chant “you suck” in several different languages. “You can’t do this. This novel is already lame. Take the dog for a walk, google Antwerp, paint your nails, loser, and leave the authorly stuff to the big boys and girls.”
I hate that slut. She lives for free and fucks with every character, every plot line, every carefully planned moment of suspense that creeps innocently out of my imagination. She dresses in trashy clothes and shows her underwear to old men. She smells like failure, bottled in sour wine and entrails. But she lives in the very tips of my fingers and sometimes she bites.
The blank page is an author’s greatest threat, which is why NaNoWriMo is such a powerful tool. 1600 words, kids. Just blast ‘em out. Don’t re-read, don’t edit, don’t worry that your main character started out at Jim but five pages in he’s turned into a Sharon… just keep going. Editing comes later. Boy, does it ever. But don’t go there right now! Just write! Write NOW!
“You suuuuuck like your grandma’s titties!”
Why did I just get up and check the temperature outdoors, make another coffee, google the geographical location of Antwerp and start singing the lyrics to the new Brett Eldredge song? Which I had to check to make sure I got them right?
That’s what she does. The Inner Voice. She thwarts.
My advice to you darling Wrimos out there who are also sitting at your writing device of choice, staring despairingly at the page, your carefully planned outline scattered like cat shit on the floor beside you, listening to your Inner Voice telling you that ornamental horticulture is the hobby for you… don’t give in! No one can write your novel but you. And in your heart-of-hearts you know that your bitchy Inner Voice is really your evil step-mother, or your elementary teacher who told you that you would never amount to anything, or your first boyfriend who dumped you because you were too fat… so you know what to do? Make the Inner Voice into a character. Preferably one you kill off in a violent manner, hopefully with zombies, dismemberment and an anal probe. That’s the writer’s revenge, isn’t it? Don’t listen to the voice that tells you no.
Rise above. Like water off a duck’s back. Prove it wrong.
I’ve just written 656 words in the past half hour. I’ve just found out that Clive Owen was born in 1964 which means he’s the same age as my sister who lives in New Zealand where it is currently 9:59 pm which means that their Nano first day is almost over and I only have now 709 words…
You suuuu…. NO! No I DON’T suck, you whore of verbosity! I just need to refresh my coffee, and have a shower, and check facebook…
It’s gonna be a long month.