A weekend or two ago, I took Lizzie to see our college's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Two of my fiction writers were seated in the row behind us, and one of them commented that "We've been talking about it, and we have no idea where you're getting the time to write so much for Nano."
I made a joke (which is what I do): "I just don't grade your stuff." That was a joke because I do grade their stuff. Sometimes it seems that all I do is grade stuff -- and that week, in fact, I'd collected assignments in all three of my classes, and slogged through them with regularity if not with vim and vigor.
"Yeah," one of the fiction writers said. "We figured as much. Because you're not getting our stuff back to us til late."
The professorly hairs raised on the back of my neck. The fact is that I pride myself on getting assignments back no later than a week after I collect them, and I always, always, make good on that promise. By late, these women must've meant that instead of passing back the fiction exercises the day after I collected them, I'd passed them back two days later. Or, at most, three. That is hardly "late" in the grade scheme of college, I wanted to snap. In fact, that is damn admirable.
The fact of the matter is, though, that it's hard to find time to write regularly. Since it's sometimes a difficult business to write in the first place, especially when there is no one demanding that I do it, no deadlines that I have to meet except those that I set for myself, and because I don't have a reader waiting to respond to what I've written, it's easy to "forget" about this obligation. After all, I'm only doing it for myself.
For the past month, I've been making at least 30 minutes every day for this Nanowrite. And I've felt pretty good about it, though I've also felt a bit naughty (which is a good thing, at least for me) because it usually means that I'm setting aside some homework that I feel I should be doing, or ignoring my family (as I'm doing right now -- and note that my family at present includes my mother, who is visiting for Thanksgiving), or not working out. Or not walking the dog. Or not putting the clothing in the dryer. Or not nagging my daughter about her homework. Or grading a batch of essays, fiction writing exercises, or reading responses with alacrity.
Perhaps the best thing about Nanowrimo is that it activates my competitive nature, and I want to "beat" myself, "beat" the less motivated writers, and churn out those 50,000 words as if they mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, as if they are just a miniscule chip off of my "genius." As if the demons of self doubt and guilt and insecurity are not, right now, nipping at my metaphorical heels.
By the way -- the novel that I'm writing? It sucks. And when I say sucks, I mean it flat out stinks to high heaven. It has major plot holes, the characters are fairly flat, and the metaphysical details of the world I'm creating are iffy at best. And when I babbled about it to my husband the other day, while we were walking around the track at the Y, he suddenly peeled off to go to the bathroom and when he came back, changed the subject so effectively that I haven't brought it up again. In other words, the novel is so bad that just talking about it gives Dave the shits. (If this sounds like whining, that's because it is.)
But I keep going because I don't want to be a quitter. And because I like to "win."
Nano word count, day 23: 45.032