November: National Novel Quitting Month


SEVENTEEN HUNDRED words and change. That’s how much fiction I wrote on November 1, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, a balls-to-the-wall creative sprint in which writers challenge themselves to produce a new, 50,000-word work in the space of 30 days. That works out to 1,667 words a day, so I was right where I needed to be.

The idea behind the thing is to force you to get words out of your head and onto the page, working so quickly that you just don’t have time to listen to the crippling criticism of your inner skeptic or fuss over each sentence until you have the precise word picked out, the exact punctuation marking your sentences. That stuff comes later, after you’re done; for one month you’re doing nothing but writing, 1,667 words a day, your personal editor bound and gagged and locked in a closet like the Gimp.

My triumph lasted all of a day.

Two thousand twelve was maybe my fourth or fifth crack at NaNoWriMo. I’ve “won”–that is, written a 50,000-word novel–just once. This year, as in all of those other years, I entered November determined to safeguard my writing time with miserly ruthlessness. I even had in my head the outline of a plot.

Get yourself a couple of days behind, though, like I did, and you quickly reach the fish-or-cut-bait moment. As a younger guy, one without the parental, professional, and personal responsibilities that have attached themselves to me over the years, I might have sequestered myself and caught up. Today, in the place and time where my life has brought me, that simply isn’t possible.

Yep, I gave up.

And I’m wondering whether it’s time, finally, to give up completely. With each passing year, finding the time to sit and create becomes ever more difficult.

The choices I have made–marriage, children, mortgage, career, volunteering–have led me to a wonderful and happy place. Taken alone, each would leave me plenty of time to pursue creative endeavors. Aggregated, they amount to a life stuffed with commitments. Good commitments, to be sure. But commitments, ones I neither can nor wish to be rid of.

So: Can a fisherman find happiness cutting bait? | DL

2 thoughts on “November: National Novel Quitting Month

  1. Fishing is highly overrated. Sometimes it’s enough just to enjoy a few quiet moments in the boat.

    Good for you that you at least gave it a shot. That puts you miles ahead of those of us who mentally went through the litany of commitments and talked themselves out of it before pen even hit paper. Even if you didn’t finish, you’re still our hero for starting!

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