Here in Texas the first week of NaNoWriMo will be over in a mere seven hours, and I’ve done what I set out to do – written 16,000 words toward the 50,000 word goal which comprises “winning”. I wanted to be as far ahead as possible, as soon as possible, because November is busy! Assuming that NaNo is an American invention, who in heaven’s name decided to hold it in November? Thanksgiving and the run-up to the holidays notwithstanding, my work schedule is tight, I have guests coming from out of the country in a week, and I’m just now getting over this cold/flu/virus/allergy thing that laid me low over the weekend. (The weekend where I wrote 6000 words.)
I planned to take today off from the novel anyway, and the timing couldn’t be better. I cannot face the book today, I’m bored to tears with it, I don’t know how to get from her to there with it… etc. And that’s just fine, because I know myself well enough to know that later on tonight, or tomorrow, latest, I’ll be ready to pound out another 2000-3000 words, and the next day, and the next, until my next day off.
I’ve been thinking about the choices we make, how we choose (or don’t choose) to spend our time. Speaking for myself, in recent years I’ve been treading water by choosing to spend hours of my life unproductively. One could certainly argue that the time I’ve spent playing games on the iPhone was ‘down time’ where my subconscious was doing its thing, which resulted in me being here, NOW, writing… and that might well be true. But now that I’ve committed to writing each and every day, whether the novels I’m working on, or blogging, or articles for sundry periodicals, I have to look more closely at how I have been living.
My very best friend is a marvelous writer who isn’t writing much at the moment. She’s the reason why I’m writing at all – her example gave me that “what if I were too…” notion that launched me into this profession in the first place. I love her dearly, and am concerned that she spends so much time on Facebook! And when I call her on it she has as many reasons for spending time online, as I did for using iPhone games to avoid the rest of my life.
But for me the real question is: When I get to the end of my life, will I regret how I’ve spent those hours, days, years? For me, now that I have this purpose, I have an answer. No regrets for the time spent here, on my butt in front of the computer, writing. And if I make the choice to spend the hours that I could be writing, playing games on the iPhone (or whatever gadget we’ll all be oohing and aahing over in ten years’ time) then yes, that will be a regret. With this realization, I now have a bottom line. Being published is not the issue (though eventually, that would be nice). Writing is, for me, the most satisfying creative form that I have ever experienced, and I have been a creative person my entire life: musician, artist, weaver, knitter. It is as though at fifty-four I have been reborn, with a new purpose. I’ve found something which I was searching for, without knowing that I was searching.
So I’ll sit down with the laptop and pull up the NaNo book, either tonight or tomorrow, and write some more. And there will be plot dead ends, threads that lead nowhere, ideas that don’t work… and then that flash of brilliance that makes me smile. Draft Zero. That’s the ticket!