In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

NaNo and the Muse

  Slightly to my surprise, NaNoWriMo is still going well. I've put out 31,000 words now, so I'm ahead of the target. More, I think the text is OK - not great, but it's a decent first draft, and I'll take that.

  A couple of days ago I deleted some narrative I wasn't happy with, and other NaNoes (other writers in the challenge) were shocked by that. They couldn't understand why I deleted text that counts towards my word total. And that got me thinking (i.e. sidetracked me) about what NaNoWriMo is actually about. What is its aim?

  50,000 words in a month? Not really. That's just the headline, the target. I could write "wibble wibble blah" thousands of times and make that amount of words, but it wouldn't be a novel.

  I think NaNo is about getting people to write. Reminding them that it's possible to prioritise writing, even when your life is full of work stress, or children to take care of, putting the laundry out, walking the dog, cooking dinner, and finally collapsing on the sofa because you're too bushed to do any more. Except... you're not. November reminds us that we can dredge up that little bit of extra energy, we can fit in half an hour of writing between hoovering downstairs and picking up the kids. It motivates us, and it helps us prove to ourselves that we can actually do this.

  So who cares if we make 50,000 words? It's nice if we do, but doesn't matter if we don't. What matters is that we found time to write. We sat at our desks and gave the muse a chance to come visit us. We thought about what we wanted to say, and how we could say it, and we put words on the page (and maybe deleted them again) and cursed and muttered and finally found a way.

  Just as importantly, we met a whole bunch of interesting people who also write - and who live in our area! People we can talk to, lean on when we need to, and offer a shoulder to when they're the ones struggling. Writing is such a solitary task that it's nearly always good to find like-minded folk to share experiences with. I've found a good few: Colin and Sue, Tonia and Jasmine, Michelle, Stephanie, Rosie, and all the people in the chat room. I'd like to stay in touch when November is done, to see if we all keep making time to write even when the NaNo challenge is over.

  I will, and I hope my new friends do too.