Is anyone else being driven absolutely batty by NaNoWriMo? (It's even exhausting to type out the acronym, with the correct capital letters and such.) It has eluded me forever, and while I am progressing along at a beautiful pace this year, I find the endeavor seeping into almost every inch of my life. And my jury is still out on whether or not this is a useful practice.
Sure it's pushing me to write write write. And if I have to type the word 'the' 60,000 times ala Nicholson in The Shining, I am finishing out the month with a novel in my pocket. I am in fact writing through my normal blockades where in past projects I've just stopped or skipped on to something else. Characters who misbehave are tossed into the trash for now and make way for those who will fall in line and skip along with the plot I've devised. I've simplified the novel's settings to track them more easily and add richer detail. I downloaded the new index card applicationfor my iPad (which is lovely, can't recommend it enough) and I am certainly more organized than I have ever been with previous projects. This locomotive of a project is on schedule.
But...and there is always a but...is it healthy to go nose to nose with a project and not come up for air until it's finished? Does life allow for this sort of a luxury? I am lucky to have a support system like no other. My husband picks up the odds and ends rattling around the house that I may be dropping because I've got one eye on word count and one eye on plot progression. My parents chip in too, constantly, despite their ridiculously busy jobs and responsibilities, providing baby back-up whenever necessary. But I still feel like I'm walking around with one of those adorable/evil cones dogs wear to keep from scratching themselves. I feel like the 150 percent I'm pouring into my YA novel is coming at a cost to other areas. Do my children understand that I can't be quite as fun this month because I'm writing nonstop? Will my teaching suffer if I'm watching the clock and wondering when my next free hour comes to knock out the required 2,000-word chapter?
And fellow writers, aren't we already an obsessive and escapist group? (Also repetitive, because I feel certain I've blogged about this before.) I remember these writing blinders sustaining me in high school, a place that I was never too fond of. I say this loving it now, although being on the other side of the desk as a teacher is a far cry from the angst-ridden and teenage nightmarish place many students experience. As a teenager I wrote for hours, read for hours, reminded myself that there were a million unexplored worlds to creep into that made my own feel finite and not so oppressive. I remember writing a novella in middle school actually, after Gary Paulsen came to speak to us, and I'm fairly certain I did nothing else for three months solid but write until my orange Mead notebook and Trapper Keeper were chock full of the stories.
No wonder NaNoWriMo is only a month, because any longer and I might forget my name. Or my address. Running a mental marathon filled with metaphors and alliteration, conflict and resolution, is no easy task. But then again, at the end of November while I am feasting on turkey, I will in fact have my novel in my pocket. So NaNoWriMo, let's call a truce. Get me to the end of my book, and I'll stop griping about the annoying acronym or the fact that I may have forgotten to tie my own shoes, that brain space occupied by my writing.
Writing has always been an escape, a passion, and a friend. And I love the fact that in my free time and through my career I can help others discover their voice, too.