Seriously, where's the gif of a Muppets character running around waving their hands in the air? Because right now, I need one to sum up my life that is NaNo and vacation prep. Thankfully, my friend Sommer Leigh from the amazing and informative blog, Tell Great Stories, has put aside her massive reading pile (she is a judge for the Cybils, you know), and has stepped in for today's NaNo post. Thanks, Sommer!
There is a mythology wrapped around NaNoWriMo, made partially of exaggerated truths, self-perpetuating experiences, and straight up lies. These mythologies plug into the Hollywood version of our truer, writerly selves hunched over typewriters, banging out the suffering of our generation made vivid and accountable by our ability to spin a yarn. The mythology is seductive, for better and for worse.
Within every human being is an innate, primal desire to create. Individuals create different things, from knitted sweaters to babies, from gardens to stories. We strain toward the manifestation of our fears, for that’s what it really is, in a strange effort to conquer them. The sweaters fight off cold, the babies ward off death, the gardens conquer famine and stories…stories battle silence and memory and time. We ache to create something of ourselves. Something permanent and physical when the march of time renders everything else so aged and impermanent.
But we are also tragic about making time for ourselves and putting our happiness before all the other nagging things. Creating things takes time, so we never get around to it. We don’t make time or not enough of it and so the need to create goes on and on unsatisfied until we’re sick from it. If we all weren’t jonesing for a hit by the time November rolled around, the breakneck speed of NaNoWriMo might destroy us.
That’s why when NaNoWriMo is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the stars are in everyone’s eyes, I fall in love with the infectious passion all over again. The reason I love NaNoWriMo is because it is the one month of the whole year where we give ourselves permission to make writing a priority.
In November we take time off work, we ignore the laundry, the dinner, the kids. It’s the one time of the year where we put ourselves first and everything else is told to get the hell lost, see you in December, buh-bye.
Last year I bought paper plates and plastic silverware and swore off doing dishes for a month.
November is a sort of freedom writers relish, a mecca for exploring the one dream we hold private in our hearts and bracket with heavy sighs because we’d really love to write a book someday when we have more time, that magical time in our future when we will be less busy, less media consumed. When we’ll give ourselves permission to chase such an indulgent dream.
For most people, that magic day doesn’t exist. Those people have created their own road blocks, cemented the bricks, planted the mines, strung the barbed wire. They’ll never cross it. They’ll never even try.
November though, November is a special occasion, an event that happens once a year when we’re willing to work shortcuts into our lives and let episodes of our favorite tv shows pile up. Creating something, something impossible like 50,000 words of a novel, seems extraordinary and attainable for a short window of time.
Like a magic door at the back of a wardrobe, the secret entrance to the labyrinth – the mythology of NaNoWriMo and November is like that.
Sommer Leigh blogs at Tell Great Stories (http://www.sommerleigh.com) and is a moderator for Nathan Bransford’s writer forums (http://forums.nathanbransford.com/ ). She’s currently working on a YA sci-fi about superheroes and villains, airships and mad scientists.