Don’t let the title of this post fool you: I’m working on a novel. Last night I wrote 350 words, which given the level of mental fatigue I was facing a week and a half before the completion of our deadline cycle, was a Herculean effort.
I was eight days late starting #NaNoWriMo. I had planned for this eventuality, as I had a big feature deadline for the magazine and some travel lined up in its service beforehand the first week of this month. I also knew that, as always, we’d be on deadline for our January/February issue during November.
So I subtracted the days I knew I couldn’t work and divided 50,000 words by what remained. The result was something like 2,300 words every day, which I knew I could manage—in 2009, when I finished NaNoWriMo with the first draft of this same novel, I managed to skip every day from November 3 to November 11 and ended up in a similar predicament but ended up reaching 50,000 words anyway.
But as I’ve already said, that novel never was what I wanted it to be. This time, I feel something being pulled out of my personality along with the story, like when you tweeze out a hair and a bunch of pus comes out along with it. Or something less gross—whatever.
Anyway, I fell behind in my writing, and now, to catch up, I’d need something like 2,800 words a day. I know I *could* do it, but I don’t really think I *should*. So, barring some miracle of the muses, I’m not going to finish #NaNoWriMo.
But I am going to finish the story, and that’s what’s more important. Right now, with everything else that’s going on, this story is like a stray puppy that’s following along behind me. The 300 words or so I can give it most nights are like little bits of food I’m parceling out to keep it following me until I can get to a place where I have a nice stash of treats and dog food waiting—in other words, when I can get to a place and time (December) where I’ll have less to do with my mind and more creative energy to give these characters.
I’m feeling impatient: More than anything, right now I want to be working on this novel, but it doesn’t have a deadline, and the magazine does, and that’s all okay. I love my job, I’m lucky to have it, and I’m really proud of the issue we’re putting together. And in addition to time to work on this story, I also want to preserve time for spending with Brian, and Fred, and our friends, and my family, and thinking about Christmas, and taking twenty minutes in the shower instead of ten to let my brain rest for awhile from the mental plate-spinning that is my life on occasion. I want to give myself time with my free weights every other morning and, God willing, to run sprints at the YMCA (though as of late, that’s another thing that’s had to fall by the wayside).
As is the case lately, it feels like there isn’t enough time or energy. So I’m giving this story what I can—mostly, that involves a lot of thinking about the story and what needs to happen to get my character from A to B to Z, then journaling those thoughts before my mind erases them in favor of whatever pops up in my RSS reader or on my Facebook feed.
I won’t finish #NaNoWriMo, but I think the story is going to be better served for it, and I will be better served for having done that. I’ll write when and where I can, and be happy for those who finish, and look forward to the day I can give this eager little puppy of a book what it really needs to grow big and strong.