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N: roundabout

November 29, 2011

To prepare for Nanowrimo, in October I set myself the goal of writing at least 1000 1666 1700 words per day. There were only two days that I did not write it all. The day that I wrote the least, I wrote 149 words; the day I wrote the second least, that amount was 870 words. I averaged 1767 words; my monthly total was 54,765 (3.9% above my goal).

Whatever I wrote might be used to fill the goal, as long as I put thought into it: blog posts, journal entries, significant comments on a blog, meaningful e-mails, handwritten ideas for further writing.

For November, I set myself 4 interrelated goals:

  1. 50,000 words on my book;
  2. 10,000 or more words on my blog, or other writings;
  3. total words for the month >= 60,000;
  4. average per day ~ 2,000 words.

I have only met Goal #2, and missed the other three by quite a large margin.

In October, I was inspired to write, more often than I would have otherwise. And every night when I added my daily word count to my chart, I was pleased, but also motivated to do more — to not only stay on track, but to exceed.

This month I wrote every day but three, but fewer than half of the days (n = 11) on my book, and less than a quarter (n = 5) on my blog. My interest in writing flagged pretty early, and it was very hard to continue.

Every time I thought about writing something that wasn’t my book, I felt the book’s metaphorical eyes on me. It was easier to stay away from my laptop altogether.

Tonight I was reading a book about how to write poetry, and it talked about why some poets use meter and rhyme, while others write in free verse. That poems need to find their own shape, their own rhythm, their own way. I’m personally not drawn to using meter and rhyme. I remember having to do that in sophomore English, but finding it very confining. And when the poem is read aloud, the sing-songy rhythm I would fall into often obscured the meaning to me. I like heading out on a journey, with no idea where I’m going. I like meanders and detours and surprises.

It was only today, after reading a different book yesterday, that I woke up thinking about something that could become a central idea in the book I tried to start writing 4 weeks ago. So this afternoon, I avoided the malevolent eye of my book, and wrote my thoughts down in a notebook in ink. I wrote five pages, filled with many paragraphs that do not connect to each other. Topics hopscotch from all corners of my life, and none of them are explicitly about the book. But thinking these thoughts plants seeds of larger issues that I will write about further, somewhere.

So can I include any of this writing in the column on my chart labeled Book? I don’t think so.

But if I scoured through the 30,000 some words I wrote this month, whose numbers appear in other (non-Book) columns, how many of them might also touch on themes, ideas, images, etc., that are connected to my book? If I was not trying to write this book — if I had not begun the Nanowrimo project — which waterfalls of words would I not have written? Which cascades of questions would I not yet have realized how they intertwine and entangle with long-held interests?

So if I compare my October chart with my November chart, the pre-Nanowrimo numbers are much more impressive. And the experience in October was much more pleasurable.

But October didn’t change me. The goal was strictly to attain the numbers overall. I now see that I wasn’t seeking to challenge myself enough. By succeeding, what did I prove except that I like writing (which I already knew)?

November has been hard. Not just because of the obvious ‘I’ve never written fiction before so I don’t know what I’m doing’, although that is part of it. I’ve sought out contentious ideas to read and think about. I’ve explored a bunch of ideas that seem intriguing but I can’t figure out how they might fit together. I’ve delved deeply into my own psyche, and found wondrous strangeness. I’ve reawakened my long-dormant inner poet.

I’m not the same person I was four weeks ago. I’ve changed.

Before, I was a writer. But now I’m a Writer. I take myself seriously in a way I did not imagine doing on October 31.

What I have achieved this month cannot be depicted on any chart. And talking about it might sound bombastic. So instead I’ll write, because that’s what I do.


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