So, here we are in the ides of September… past the ides, actually, more like the post-ides… If the ides are that mid-cycle point where you can safely wear thongs and crème riding breeches and white flannel pyjamas, then we are getting dangerously close to the granny-panty days of shark week where you cry, scream, throw things, crave triple chocolate fudge ice cream, curl up in the fetal position, clutching your abdomen, and wanting very sincerely to rip out your own ovaries and hurl them at passing males – all in 30 second intervals, within the span of an OB commercial…
But after September, comes October, full of crisp leaves and canoe paddles and squirrel hunting, and then comes…
Yes, I wrote that longwinded, unfunny paragraph, rife with sexist clichès just to talk about National Novel Writing Month. Why?
Because Fuck NaNoWriMo. I believe in setting realistic goals I have more than a snowballs chance in hell of completing, so much so that I when I make up ‘to do’ lists every day, I pad them with gravy tasks a sea cucumber could pull off, just so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something without any pressure.
Often they’re things I’ve already done by the time I write the list. Like “Wake up breathing” or “Have successful bowel movement”. (Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as an unsuccessful bowel movement – I have known failure and I have known victory, both generally with a 20lb Maine Coon cat perched on my shoulders.)
Sometimes they’re existential yet necessary parts of being in my head: “Reflect on Lincoln’s assassination. Learn from his mistakes.” The lesson that day was never go to the opera without a flack jacket.
Sometimes they’re necessary tasks of being a writer, like “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WRITE SOMETHING” or, more important still, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, READ SOMETHING.” (Both of which can be realistically combined with a successful bowel movement.)
Even if I sit on the can so long my legs go numb and I get a near-fatal blood clot, if I’ve done nothing more than write 1800 words, I’ll call that a success! And I shall celebrate! …with prune juice …and heparin.
But writing an entire novel in a month… I’d love to be able to do that. I’d also like to have a prehensile tail and live in a bioluminescent forest. My general work day consists of waking at 3am after a fulfilling four hour sleep, plodding about like the walking dead until I consume enough caffeine to ensure my heart remains beating, then driving a tractor trailer through throngs of hipsters in ecologically responsible automobiles who all seem intent on committing suicide beneath my wheels, before arriving to one of any number of warehouses where I’m treated to more security barriers and less hospitable regard than a convicted felon and then I sit at a dock just long enough to check facebook, but not long enough to do any useful writing.
Then repeat. Like 8 times.
Then I go home and feed nineteen dogs, run water for two dozen horses, fix a truck and/or generator, help my wife break a horse, fret over the apparent stagnation of my hopes and dreams, look at the time and think, “Holy fuck, I’ve only got 4 hours to sleep!” And maybe let my wife tie me up and rape me so we both fall asleep to the sound of electronically-generated rain, thunder and a distant locomotive. I’m usually pretty tired by then.
Occasionally, I slip away and drive out to a dead end road or a bit of bush, sit and let my brain poach in a broth of its own creative juices and whatever caffeine and B vitamins hung around for the afterparty, and maybe that successfully opens some valve so a few of the people in my head pour out on to paper and do something useful.
I try to fit a little of that in every day. And at this rate, my debut novel will likely be published posthumously.
Honestly, I’m considering safe ways to break my left arm and go on sick benefits for a couple months just to have enough time to finish Kayla. Except it’s difficult to train horses with only one arm.
Difficult, but not impossible.
I have no doubt some of you may have no trouble pounding out 50,000 words in thirty days. Mind you, if you have the time, that’s the easy part. Then comes a shit ton of editing and rewrites for a few (or several) drafts. And 50,000 is short. Like 8-10 chapters for me.
But don’t let me stop you. If you manage to write a whole novel in 30 days, let me know. Mainly, let me know how you accomplished that with a full time job and a menagerie of critters.
Yes, I’mgbvgfft only mildly bitter. The cat just stepped on the keyboard as I was finishing that up in the bathroom. Thought I’d leave it in for authenticity. He’s been staring at the screen for the past several minutes and I swear he’s reading and trying to edit. Whenever I hit the backspace, he sighs and tries to grab the tablet.
‘Just let meow fuckin do this!’
This is what happens to my brain when I’m tired. And the livestock tank is still filling up and five dogs get their pm feeding and I have to move a trailer……..