Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Can't Go On, I'll Go On

So it happens that I'm behind in my NaNoWriMo novel this year; like, really far behind, like embarassed-to-post-my-lousy-word-count behind. Sane people in my position would do the math, look at the odds of getting out the rest of the 50K in the next twenty days, and shut down the Word file in favor of doing soemthing a little less antisocial and masochistic with their November.

For good or ill, the pursuit of writing does not lend itself well to sanity; and, as another irresponsible scoundrel famously said, "Never tell me the odds." I'm settled down to refusing to be beaten, firm in the hope that I can rally myself and make up the difference yet - the month is young! I have three solid weekends yet! Keep the coffee coming! If I had any sense, I'd never have come on board to this in the first place, and since I very obviously don't, might as well keep at it until the curtain comes down.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I don't want to give the impression that my determination is something I've carried with me from the start of this endeavor. As recently as last night I was saying to my wife that I may have already bolloxed this year's effort up for myself, that with such a really paltry output so far I wondered if I might as well just, yanno, not bother with putting any more effort into it this time around. My wife being a long-suffering NaNo widow of five successive years, watching me year after year grit my teeth and sweat out the 50,000 words at the expense of much normal human activity, I figured she'd be the first to say, "Hey, you've already proven you can do it - no shame in letting this one slide." Heaven knows she and the dog and the cat would all be just as glad to have me shut up in the office a lot less between now and December, right?

Instead she said, "If the whole point of doing this is to get you writing, why in the world would you quit now?"

And she is, of course, absolutely right. (There are reasons we've been married for a whole decade and counting.) If the only reason I sign up is for the prize of a shiny Winner! bar in my NaNoWriMo profile on November 30, I'm no kind of writer at all.

So here I am, on a lovely Autumn afternoon when I ought to - by any sane standards - be out admiring the leaves, or doing the week's grocery shopping, or going to a movie, or walking the dog, instead applying butt to chair and hands to keyboard to try and get as many words into my book as I can between now and bedtime, to try and close as much of the gap as I can between where I am and where I ought to, want to be. Those words might not even be any good; they might not, in the end, be enough. But that's not the point. The point is to keep going, one word after the other, one at a time, to put something into the world that wasn't there before - not to have written, but to be writing. Everything else is icing.

Come the end of the month, I may not win, but as long as the work goes on, I'm not going to call it a loss, either.


  1. Your title reminds me of a line from a play I saw this weekend, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - "I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy."

    To be successful, we have to hold onto diametrical thoughts. We have to believe it is possible to do something we believe to be impossible. If it were not impossible, somehow it wouldn't be so interesting a task. If it were not possible, no one would have done it.

    I'm glad you are choosing to continue, despite those unspoken odds. Your wife sums it up perfectly, and it is a mantra we should each recite to ourselves every day for the rest of our lives: "Why in the world would you quit now?"

  2. She is a wiser woman than I probably deserve.

    The title's a Beckett quote, who knew from hopeless endeavors and philosophical paradoxes. (Albee, of course, was plugged into the same circuit of the zeitgeist.)