I didn’t write at all this week. Strangely I feel no remorse. But I don’t have the kind of disdain for NaNoWriMo that I did when I stumbled last year. Actually if anything I am beginning to see the merits of NaNoWriMo. The encouragement to get out of the habit of thinking or talking about writing and get into the practice of writing. The practice of turning off self-censorship, learning to not critique your work too early. Simply learning by doing, and learning by your mistakes.
Towards the end of October I decided to write whatever popped into my head for a couple of hours each day. It was mostly just to see how long it would take to reach two thousand words each day. I stumbled my way through this mysterious tale. It was genuinely quite horrible but I didn’t care because it wasn’t about the quality it was about the quantity. But it is interesting the distinctions you make even in the course of doing something badly. I knew what I had done badly and I knew how I would change it if I were to rewrite the story.
I’ve made a lot of distinctions within my NaNoWriMo project too. I’ve found myself asking questions about things that had never occurred to me until earlier this month. At different points during the narrative I found myself asking, “What is the reader’s interest in this passage? Why should they care? What is their emotional investment in this?” I really thought about the dramatic arc of this work for the first time (and concluded that some research would be helpful). I ran into some point of view issues as online video – of all things – became a character in its own right.
I haven’t really reached the word count I aspired to, but I’m not overly disappointed. I humbly acknowledge that memoir is perhaps not the best vechicle for NaNoWriMo. In the context of a novel, especially the first draft of a novel, you really can plow through. I feel that for a memoir I have a certain responsibility as the author to represent myself and others accurately. I can’t really go, “Oh, I don’t remember what happened there – let’s make it up.” Infact in many ways I felt much less a writer as a curator of my own memories and personal history. And actually that was primarily what this process was about. It was exploratory in nature. It was about getting a sense of the lay of the land.
I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep grinding away at this ‘thing’ and see where I end up.