NaNoWriMo – with reservation

So today is Nov. 1. Which equals: post-Halloween-in-San-Francisco hangover, the threat of full-blown winter, and, also, incidentally, day one of National Novel Writing Month. I claimed, a few months back, that I’d be participating in the effort this year. Even though I’m strictly, normally, a non-fiction writer. Even though I am in California visiting my sister for the next two weeks and really don’t have time or space to hole up and tap at keys. Even though writing a novel has never, ever interested me.

I spent the afternoon editing manuscripts in a coffee shop in Oakland and battling a red wine-Crown Royal-Makers hangover on account of last night’s festivities. At 4 p.m., with the editing finished and my head fuzzy, I’d about decided to chuck the whole NaNoWriMo idea and go for a walk through sketch Oakland instead.

But. Then I started to feel like a pussy. I’ve lately felt lackadaisical about pursuing personal writing projects. Since moving back to Portland in August, I’ve mostly just been towing the line instead. Doing the minimum and pondering my next move, career-wise. Trying to catch up on sleep. Running lots. Writing little. Which is why NaNoWriMo appeals. It’s a reboot of sorts. A quick-and-dirty approach to jump-starting one’s creativity.

So, with mild assignation, I opened a Word doc and I started typing.

Normally, I think and write in disordered chunks. I usually approach the construction of a story as if it is a gigantic puzzle whose pieces I construct and fit together at random. Title always comes last. So, too, often, does the opening paragraph. This time, I’m going totally linear. It felt like a revelation to start the whole thing off by creating a title page with an actual title on it. Sort of brazen. Who am I to write a crappy novel in 30 days? We’ll find out.

It’s called “The Man Drowning.” And, you guessed it. It is about a man drowning. I made it to 1,500 words today. Chapter 1 complete. Janky and stilted and in need of a few sharp metaphors, for sure, but it exists.

Wish me luck.

Oh, yeah, and I was Charlie Chaplin for Halloween. In case you wondered.


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