I’m guessing it was about five years ago. It could be more. I made the decision to participate in NaNoWriMo. I was excited. I had a book in mind, which to this day I don’t recall, and I had done some loose outlining in preparation. I planned for NaNoWriMo a couple of months in advance, what I would write, where I would write, what my daily word count would be and how I would make up for any lost word counts during the week on the weekends. I told my co-workers what I had planned to do. I announced my intended participation to my family because their understanding is important, integral, necessary even in order to accomplish a successful NaNoWriMo. If huge chunks of my precious time were to be spent hidden in my room in bed with crooked aching fingers bleeding priceless words onto the keyboard, I wanted their blessing and support. I was alight with anticipation, sort of like the way one’s mouth waters when they know they’re about to eat something good.
Ah, I know. I over-dramatize a bit. But if you have ever participated in a NaNoWriMo or you intend to this year, then you can probably relate to the feeling. It’s a fantastic feeling, actually. You are pounding out your 50,000+ words while thousands, millions? of other like minded people are doing the same thing. Despite the fact that I won’t be participating this year, I get a little charge just thinking about that beautiful camaraderie. I relish that feeling now as much as I did then, even though my only NaNoWriMo experience was a whopping failure.
I had three problems.
- Absolutely no family understanding or support. If, like me, you’re the only person in your family who writes, then you’re likely aware of how little other people know or understand about the writing process. Sometimes the words flow and sometimes they get hung up like a sweater on a nail. To disentangle that precious sweater, you need more time and more effort and patience, and it is difficult to employ any of these when someone in the next room, or in the doorway, or standing over your right shoulder is asking you to do something and pretending they’re just too helpless to do it themselves. Yes, that too was a bit over-dramatic. A bit. A tiny tiny bit.
- Plot holes. My story, the one I can’t remember, had so many of them I kept falling in them and breaking an ankle or a hip. Exaggeration? Well, yeah, but I am talking figuratively here. Today I would say that plot holes aren’t really a problem. Today, I would likely just write right on through them and take my lumps along the way. This is NaNoWriMo, not NaPerfectNoWriMo. But then, those plot holes lead to problem #3.
- Self doubt. With little understanding and lots of plot holes and a whole slew of other barriers to my writing, some self manufactured and others not, I eventually gave up. Poo on me. Believe me, I blame no one for that failure. If I had pushed on and failed, well then, that would be acceptable to me. Honest attempts are meaningful and worthy. When we give up, we literally throw away the possibility of success.
I admire every one of you who decides to give NaNoWriMo a try. I admire that spunk and drive. One of these days I may give it a try again. It may even be this year, after all this is day 1, yeah? But, next time I decide to give NaNoWriMo a try, I think I’ll keep it to myself. I’ll just quietly chip away at those 50,000 words and see what I can come up with in those 30 days. When it’s all over, that’s when I will tell the world… or not.
Good luck my writing comrades!!!!