I said I would do it last year. But I didn’t.

I think I said I might do it the year before. But I didn’t.

This year I’m not even going to pretend. I won’t be doing it.

I am of course talking about NaNoWriMo.

For a brief time I considered it. I rather like the seductive idea of writing a novel (!) in 30 days. I mean how easy is that? Except of course that I know how hard it is, not just to write a novel, but also to commit and re-commit day after day after day.

But it’s not the commitment that’s the problem, nothing to do with the daily renewal of promises made to my inner self. I’m doing that already. Most days I sit and write. I usually begin the day with a previously established goal – a word count, a plotting scheme, a first draft for a new short story. And most days I succeed in reaching my pre-ordained goal, though not always. Life happens. But a succession of days with unmet goals and frustrated ambitions leaves me feeling irritated and cross, as if I have short-changed myself, cheated my inner being from the pleasures of desires fulfilled.

As the mother of a large and busy family I am not always mistress of my own time and schedule. Family needs always take priority. Which means that periods of time – days, sometimes running into a week or longer, can arise when I get little, if any, writing done. Frustrating as that might be, I can at least remind myself of the meaningful priorities in my life, knowing that the day will soon come when I can return to my writing desk again. I am only accountable to myself. I like it that way. There is enough stress and pressure in my day to day life without injecting any more into it in the form of outside agendas and commitments. Like NaNoWriMo.

But there is another deeper reason why I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo, this year, or most likely next year too. While I can understand the pull or draw of the promise of producing a novel in 30 days I have little interest in rushing through my first draft. Yes it is taking me forever to complete my “shitty first draft”(Anne Lamott) but I am enjoying the ride as I set out upon the journey each day. I am in no hurry to reach my destination, partly because then the more serious business of writing a novel begins. The first draft is the fun bit. Anything is possible. Some days I feel as if I have woken up and found myself to be in some enchanted land of magical possibilities. I love the sense of freedom and openness in this world of my own making. I do not want it to be circumscribed by pre-set word counts. I want to bask in the paragraph I have so painstakingly painted with carefully chosen words, even while I realize that I may later discard this, and more. What of it? For now it gives me joy.

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