Na’ No’ Yo’ Normal Novel Writing

For some reason I really wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year – that crazy, month long sprint to 50,000 words. And every time I brought it up amongst my literary friends – and got the appropriately literary version of “meh” as a response – my intention doubled. Forget that I didn’t know which novel to work on, forget that I have three or four other projects going this month, forget that I’m up to my eyeballs busy. The only voice that really got through to me was the quiet one in the corner who, really, just wanted to cast on and start knitting. This gave me pause. Long pause. And though I kept up the gun-ho optimism, and signed in with a placeholder novel, my plans for November started to seem a bit desperate. I cast on for a cowl on Saturday (and have done nothing with it since, naturally) and today I realized what I was going to do about Nano.

  1. I will not be participating in Nano
  2. I will be writing

I’ve been reading teacher blogs at work lately ( . . . . I have no excuse for this ), and one I’ve come to adore is Michael Pershan’s Teaching With Problems, he talks in one post about writing slowly and well and deeply, and that makes me think about what kinds of writing I take enjoyment in. Not what I enjoy reading, although it’s interesting to think about how the activities are connected, but what I actively enjoy the process of crafting. I like research writing. I like writing about nothing while talking about things. I like snappy, funny, clever writing – but I tend to like it in flashes: warm, merry darts of sunshine amidst a subaqueous canopy of words. I liked my review for Princess Passes, and normally I hate reviewing, and I love my response post to the first chapter of tea table talks. I like thinking out loud on paper screen, and being prosy and vague in ways that you simply aren’t supposed to be in fiction or emails or text messages. So for Nano I will be writing. No, I will not subject you to a post a day, but I think one a week is a challenging-but-still-doable-well goal. I will aim for quantity (becasue that’s easy to measure) but focus on content (becasue that’s what we’re all here for, right?).

So here’s to the words to come, and the thoughts they might inspire.

Garret Sketches: a Prelude

I’m sitting at the top of my world. My tray of tea things – really just a cookie sheet and some dirty dishes – grows cold beside me as the gray sky brightens towards noon. I call it my garret room, as if a word alone can turn the overwhelming clutter into something poetically dismal.

“Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey,” sings my computer, and I have another sip of cold Earl Grey.

I’m going to write a story about cosmos. I’ll title it “Past a Field of Cosmos,” and I’ll laugh at the misunderstandings that arise. Cosmos are my favorite flowers. When I can come up with a universe delicate and bold enough for them to live in – when I can paint with words that breathe like Monet’s Water Lilies from a distance, and show all the wonderful detail of a Robert Doisneau print under scrutiny – I’m going to write about them. I’ll write and show people how the world can exist inside a single flower.

Until then I sit here and make little pen sketches – 650 words or less. They die before they live. Already forgotten by the time I go back to proof read. If I had a little more of the starving artist about me I think they could really be something. Pathetic, you know, in the Victorian sense. But I find that I have a much higher value on food than on sentiment. I like it, sure, but you can’t live on weepy-eyed pessimism – you need something with strength and vibrancy at least now and then.

So I practice vibrancy in the sketches. Imagining the click-click of my keys as the scratching of a feather pen and the sharp return of the space bar as the report of a type-writer. One day I will be able to work words out of iron and harness a star to shine amongst my thoughts, but until then I send these sketches out to the world like little paper lantern-wishes. May they each shine brightly in the dark, little as they are.