Chasing Waterfalls

You know how stunning, majestic, and exciting waterfalls can be? How you’re lured in by their charm and beauty, only to forget how the torrents of water slap you in the face, thrust you against hidden rocks below, and threaten to drown you?

Yeah, that.

Well, that’s me. I’ve been slapped in the face and thrust to and fro by this darn National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and I feel like I’m drowning, so I’m out! O. U. T!

There’s only twelve days left—TWELVE—(can you believe how fast November flies), and I haven’t even reached the halfway mark towards 50,000 words. Yes, I’ve made great strides and I’m pretty impressed by how many chapters I’ve already accomplished, but my brain is frazzled.

I was chasing waterfalls. Lured in by the thrill and excitement of NaNoWriMo while choosing to overlook the hidden, rocky challenges below.

Challenge #1: I can’t take the pressure. WTH was I thinking?

Challenge #2: I’ve hit a brick wall and my brain has shut down. I can’t figure out what to do next in the storyline, let alone write about it.

Challenge #3: I’m unable to write with reckless abandon without going back to over-think and over-edit everything I wrote, which slows me down.

Challenge #4: I’m tired of being shackled and bound to my computer. I feel like Kunta Kinte′ and Chicken George—I need to break free.

Therefore, instead of trying to reach the 50,000 word deadline in the twelve remaining days of November (and typing my fingers raw), I’m going to unlock the shackles and run at my own pace—a more comfortable pace—which means I won’t reach the goal on time, but I’ll still have run the race. (It’s great training for when I re-enter next year.)

But I must give a shout out to all you well-wishers who’ve cheered me on and lifted me up in support during this writer-thon madness. My words to you are, “Thank You.” And particular thanks to the three S’s—Starla, Sharon & Susan. You guys are all that.

Now I close with song lyrics from the 90s R&B/Pop group TLC: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving too fast.”

Marathon Writer

Okay, call me crazy because I certainly am, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a novel in one month (50,000 words or more requirement). No way, that’s crazy talk, right? Right. But we all know life comes with a side of crazy.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and a few days ago I registered for this event, so there’s no turning back now. Last year, over 200,000 writers participated and only 30,000 of them actually finished by November 30th. The goal is to start your novel on November 1 and have a completed first-draft by midnight on November 30th.

For years I wouldn’t join because I was a chicken, or as we call it here in my house, a bawk bawk bawk (the sound a chicken makes). Whenever someone in my house is afraid of something; like me afraid of spiders, or my husband running from snakes in the backyard, or the kids screaming about bees, we’re always saying to each other, “Stop being a bawk, bawk, bawk.”

But now I’ve decided to face the challenge head on because I’ve already written a novel (read an excerpt from it here), and I’m currently trying to finish another (it’s been a thorn in my side for several, several months). So what better way to continue the insanity than by starting a whole new novel—from scratch—during NaNoWriMo. On average, it takes an author six months to a year to write a book. That’s about how long it takes me (the year part).

So, yes, come November 1, 2011, I’m running the writer’s marathon. My purpose for doing so is simple: challenge myself to go beyond what I think I can do; build a workable first-draft in a month; and to write, non-stop, without obsessing over quality. With NaNoWriMo it’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. It’s about running a race and making it to the finish line. The quality comes later when the event is over and the critiques, editing, and rewrites begin. That’s when you turn your quantity into a quality piece of writing. And yes, I may fail miserably, but I also might succeed.

Wish me well. I’ll need it—that, and a whole lot of therapy. And by now, you should know my kind of therapy (see blog post Dazed and Confused).

Photo by Renjith Krishnan