It’s that lovely season—the terribly ridiculous time of the year when most of your writer friends buckle down, ignore your texts, and begin writing novels in rapid succession. It’s NaNoWriMo, the only time of year where you’ll find other people up at 4AM, chowing on Nilla Wafers, screaming about word count. This year has already consisted of dozens of sprints (I don’t think I’ve written more than 100 words that wasn’t built in a sprint—10-15 minute sessions of straight writing), lots of junk food, and many late nights. I’ve done NaNoWriMo for eight years now, winning just three of them. And every year it is a different beast. My first few years were disasters—never even making the first day’s word count. By the time I got to college, I used my fanfiction skills (yes, I do put that on my resume, thanks for asking) to create a totally indulgent fantasy novel. I made everyone “stare daggers,” and used far too many adverbs. Sure, I’ll never touch that piece of ridiculousness again, but it taught me a valuable lesson—I can write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Over the past eight years, I’ve attempted lots of novels I never expected. I wrote about a serial killer’s mother (that was a rough month), the exploits of a group of teenagers without chaperones in Alaska (that was a weird month), and the downfall of television, the rise of the internet, and the postmodern drivel that resembled what I believed to be the Next Great American Novel (that was a fun month). NaNoWriMo is always a different beast, and I’ve definitely struggled with each piece in new ways.
This year, I’ve decided to no longer care. I’ve never been able to take my NaNo novel to workshop—it just feels like a mountain of trash by the end of the month, and while I enjoy the craziness of the journey, I’ve never felt particularly rewarded by it. I’m eternally grateful for the feeling of achievement—of being able to say “hey, I can actually write a novel.” As a serial novel starter (I’ve got dozens of manuscripts no longer than ten pages), NaNo taught me a lot about just how much I can accomplish. But I still haven’t learned as much as I’d like.
So this year, I’ve decided to write a romance novel. And as it forms, I’m realizing more and more that it is a reactionary feminist romance novel, which I’m really enjoying. I’m not caring about style, poetry, or plot. I honestly am just talking, letting the characters do whatever they’d like, and it is wonderful. 9,000 words in the first three days wonderful.
Enough talking about the work. Here’s some of the ridiculousness:
I’m beginning to regret turning on the 80s Pandora station, but the wine is telling me that something like destiny is forcing this moment.
I open a new tab, and hit “COMPOSE” to create a new email. I stare at the cursor for a good two minutes, before I return to his Instagram feed.
I’m hyper aware of my fingers, sliding through the edited photos, careful to keep the tiny devil arrow off anything that would prove that I’ve been here. Oh, don’t let me hit the like button. For goodness sake, don’t let me hit the like button.
He has a dog—a hideous Chihuahua with almost no fur, cross-eyed, tongue unable to stay in its mouth. Is he a saint, or a weirdo?
“Delilah is a rescue dog,” he told me once as we chatted during his break. He showed me a picture, and it took more composure than I’m willing to admit to continue smiling. “Isn’t she so adorable?”
I mean, could I date a man with a Chihuahua? Delilah looks back at me, her stupid pink tongue a conceited, victory mock. I’m a tiny dog who poops in a diaper, but somehow I am a better person than you.
Yep. This is already a disaster.
How’s your novel going? I’m sure it’s better than you think it is. Let’s talk about! Show off your favorite lines!