In the next month, I’m about to undergo something truly preposterous.
I’m going to write a novel in thirty days.
Maybe it will be good. Maybe it will be awful. Probably it will be somewhere in the great in-between. But I am hereby going public: I am going to write 50,000 words of fiction between this Friday and Thanksgiving weekend.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. National Novel Writing Month starts November 1st, and this year 180,000 people (and counting) have signed up to participate. Why? Because lack of a deadline is the only thing standing between any of us and that “someday” goal we set for ourselves. I’ve had a novel outline, and Chapter One, written for longer than I’d care to admit. I kept saying I’d start tomorrow, next week. I even swore here that I’d start anew- eleven months ago. But without a deadline, it hasn’t happened.
My first book came with a “real” deadline. That is to say, a deadline with money attached and signatures in triplicate. And that terror was an effective motivator. I wrote every day, even if I had to get up at 5:30 am to do it. So I’ve done this before, I keep telling myself. Even though that feels like a lifetime ago, I can do it again.
But it’s still scary. It’s still hard, for anyone, but for mothers I think it’s even harder. We are supposed to caretake, to enable, to selflessly provide. We are not supposed to say “I think I’d like to do a marathon. I’m off for a three-hour training run. Bye!”
We are not supposed to say, “I’m going to write a novel in a month and I might be impossible to live with for that whole time, and certainly our house will be a train wreck, and dinner will be peanut butter sandwiches, and it will all be in the service of something which feels very important to me but which in my darker moments I will fear is entirely self-indulgent and without merit.”
And so I haven’t said any of that. Neither has my spouse, even though he knows me well enough to know that all of that is probably true. He also knows that I am happy when I create, and out of sorts when I do not. I think he’d say that he would rather have things belly-up in our house for a month in order to reap the happiness rewards, for the whole family, of a creatively-fulfilled me thirty days from now. I hope so, because ready or not, we are about to begin that experiment.
The goal of NaNoWriMo is not to write the best thing anyone has ever written. The goal is merely to finish. Wish me luck. Or… join me?