It’s November, in case you weren’t paying attention.
November, like all things, means different things to different people. Thanksgiving, if you live in America. Autumn, if you live in a place where that word means something, where weather changes. National Novel Writing Month, if you’re the type of person who cares about that kind of thing.
I am. Still.
This is my tenth year doing this thing, writing a novel in 30 days. I think about that first year, sometimes, how difficult it was, how I struggled so hard to reach the word count each day. And then it got easier. Maybe the second year, maybe the third, maybe the fifth, I don’t remember.
It got so easy that I was embarrassed thinking about that first year. That I would mentally taunt my past self for trying so hard for something so easy.
And then it got harder.
See, I used to write every night; literally every night of the year. For years. And then I wasn’t. Even when I sat down at my desk, the words I produced were garbage, which discouraged me even more, which led to less time at the desk.
But November was always writing time. Every night, no matter if I don’t feel like it, no matter if the words are wretched, no matter if I have no idea where I’m going with the story or how I’m going to get there.
Caffeine and liquor and nicotine and words.
That’s how it goes, no matter what.
Each year, I clean my office, I get a notebook ready, I get prepared. I get ready to fall into my story. For me, November is usually a month-long holiday that starts each night. And I was getting ready for it.
I almost quit, this year. Would have quit, actually, if it hadn’t been for the fact that it was year #10. Every year, I have reached my monthly word count, or exceeded it. Every year for the past nine years, I have written a novel.
I had to get that tenth one in, right? Nobody does only nine of anything.
So I kept coming in and sitting down and writing, night after night, and I hated it. The story was a good one, and maybe I’ll end up writing it, someday. But this year wasn’t the year for it. The story was a good one, but the words were awful. Each night, I’d write them, and I’d know that they were bad, and each day, I’d wake up and check them again, just to make sure. And yep, still asscrack nasty.
Used to be, writing was my escape, it was my mental health. Even if I was only serious about it once a year, it was my relief. But this year, even thinking about writing stressed me out. Where do you go when your mental vacation is a nightmare?
So I was going to quit, but instead, I scrapped the story. I didn’t delete it, because I never delete anything, but I did move it away from my desktop, away from my mind.
It felt better, not having it looming.
I searched through my files, and I found a scrap of a story that I started years ago. I searched more, and found my notes. It was a story I liked. It was a story I wanted to write.
So I started over.
And writing is fun again. I lose myself in the words, and I glance at the clock, and it’s time to go to bed, way past time, but I want to keep writing. I don’t know what the point is, that I’m trying to make—I doubt I really even have a point—but the words were flowing, I wasn’t quite finished for the night, so this is what I did.
I wrote some more.