With the month of November comes early nightfall, a certain crispness to the air, falling leaves, and lots of feasting. And of course, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when hundreds of thousands of people around the globe attempt to churn out the gloriously flawed 50,000-word first draft of the novel they always knew they had inside of them.
For the last four Novembers in a row, I have canceled social engagements, wiggled out of work obligations, and hunkered down in front of my laptop for 30 days. The net result is three out of four novels that – either despite their frantically paced origins or because of them – I’ve loved well enough to revisit, with one in particular that is now in it’s third draft.
Like many of my fellow WriMo’s, I initially took the NaNo plunge in the hopes that the Word Count is King rule would force me to produce first and edit second. And produce, I did. Before NaNo, I routinely struggled to craft a single paragraph without stopping to rewrite. After NaNo, I have thousands of unedited paragraphs languishing within lonely folders on my desktop, practically begging for a little attention. And therein lies the problem: while I have found the means by which to produce, I now have more material than I have capacity to edit.
In NaNo years past, I’ve been inspired by a particular story idea or a desire to experiment with plot structure or genre. But I’ve been scratching my head for weeks now, unable to come up with a compelling new character or storyline.
Then it hit me: Why on earth am I trying to dream up a new story when I already have three perfectly decent novels in various stages of neglect? What am I trying to prove by cranking out yet another first draft, that I am disciplined? That I can follow a ritual? I’ve already demonstrated as much to my friends and family by effectively disappearing for a month each year.
So what am I still trying to prove to myself?
The truth is that I don’t want to write a new novel. Not now, anyway. And I am perfectly okay with this realization.
Consider this my official announcement: I will not participate in NaNoWriMo this year. In other words, keep the party invitations coming.