NaNoWriMo and I… we’re like two acquaintances who always notice each other on the same train and awkwardly exchange glances, hovering between pretending we don’t recognise each other, and saying hi. Recognising each other would probably mean obligatory awkward conversation between two almost-strangers. Not recognising each other is awkward anyway, but it saves the talking. For years NaNo has smiled shyly (or is it slyly?) at me from across the carriage. Oh, it recognises me alright. But it waits; it waits for me to make the first move.
It knew I was scared of it.
Let me make
totally legitimate excuses for myself, before I tear them all down and give my train self a good “Gosh, just woMANly it up and get over there!” throttling.
National Novel Writing Month traditionally chose November to be the month (I almost wrote Novelber…). That’s cool. I was born in November; it’s my favourite month. Only I live in Australia, down under. I’m nearly always in exam period when NaNo comes around, and even if I’m not I’m never quite prepared enough in October to tackle the monster head on. I’ve never done NaNo properly. I’ve never felt that rush or exhilaration of dashing madly for 1,667 words a day. To be honest, I don’t think I ever tried.
Then came Camp. And guess what?
It’s in July.
I just finished my final exam today.
I’ve got nearly six weeks of winter break.
I have a 5-book series idea that I’ve spent a year building brick by brick.
That’s right – it’s time to cross that carriage and chat up a relationship my boyfriend can be jealous of.
Camp feels a lot less intimidating because you can set your own writing goals, instead of standing in that mountainous 50,000 shadow from the outstart. You can count on me to wimp out. Instead, I’ve sold my soul to the devil for 1,000 words a day. That’s 31,000 words by the end of July. This feels a bit weird because I’m so used to NaNo as “30 days and nights of literary abandon”… July does have 31 days, right? Or are my knuckles a lie?
I used to write 10k of fanfiction in a school week. Then life happened. So this holidays, I’m slamming the door in life’s face. No matter what I’m doing that day, I’m giving myself a curfew to go home and write. I don’t think my boyfriend knows what he’s encouraging me to do. Sorry honey. Work calls.
I’m starting my novel from scratch – right from chapter 1. My previous attempts got me up to chapter 4 before I sighed and admitted it wasn’t working. Back to the drawing board. Scrivener got a workout, mindmapping happened, and so did this blog. I stepped into the writing community. And it’s pretty awesome.
Typing ‘writing’ into the wordpress reader and seeing so many aspiring writers out there with their own frustrations and joys is like tumbling through a certain wardrobe. I’d comment on fellow writers’ posts, cheer them on, whinge with them, and quite often just say ditto (in a more verbose way). Somewhere in between, it made me realise something.
“Dudette,” I said to the mirror, “You get so happy for other writers because you pretend you’re living through them. Let’s face it – you’re scared to bring your own story to life. You’ve been sheltered by the conveniences of fanfiction; original stories are hard for you. But until you do it, you’re just writing empty excuses for yourself in other people’s comment boxes. Can you really tell them to ‘write on’ when you’re not even next to them on the battlefield?”
My defensive reflection hid a wince. It knows I’m right. “And?” it asked flatly. It looked me in the eye and for just a second, I think I saw the naive writer we used to be. We’d written terribly and eventually we learned to write not-so-terribly. It was fun. At that moment I realised that my reflection was the writer inside me – it was that naive writer with simple desires. It still was; it had just grown up. Alone, neither of us can become that young happy writer again, and now I’m trying to remember when we even separated into two. But it’s about time we made up our differences.
My reflection crossed its arms like a final threshold. Stubborn. I liked that. We used to be good at it. “And?” it repeated with a glint of challenge. “What do you want to do about it?”
I stared back for a while, thinking. Then I grinned. My reflection blinked slowly. Finally, it began to smirk. It knew. We wanted to be stubborn again, naive again; young again. We wanted to do something that made us feel amazed by ourselves, all over again.
I crossed my arms as well. Now we looked exactly the same. Just like old times.
“Do NaNoWriMo,” I said. “For real this time.”