October again. And, a lot of my writing friends are talking about NaNo. And no, we’re not talking about Mork and Mindy. NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo which is short for National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve never heard of this, you really ought to check it out. Click this for a link to the official NaNo website.
You might be looking at the photo to the left and wondering why a post about NaNoWriMo is illustrated with four lovely quince. I don’t have just four. It’s more like FOUR HUNDRED quince. It feels like it at least. They are here to illustrate that I have many things I need and want to do, quince being the most sweet-smelling of them, that compete with my writing time.
My quince trees always ripen in October. This year it’s a little earlier than usual. I’ve already put up three batches of jelly, poached a few, and made membrillo. I’ve given some to others who appreciate their subtle charm and beauty, and I have plans for the rest. But, these plans take time. You can’t just toss them in the freezer in a baggy to wait for a more opportune moment. The fuzz must be washed off, the ends trimmed and the fruit cooked, peeled, chopped or whatever. I’m shredding some for more quince liquor (a tasty hit for my drinking friends.) I’m going to pressure can some for savory uses throughout the year. My canner can only handle so many jars at a time, my hands can only peel or cut so many of these hard gems a day.
The ever-present question of time management and whether I can juggle everything going on while doing a NaNo project. Nearly 2,000 words a day don’t appear on the screen without some thoughtful planning. And that has to include things like quince, laundry, cooking, parenting, being married, etc. I’m also taking a night class every Tuesday that requires preparation. While it is a writing class, its focus is on editing and refining. I am supposed to be editing and re-writing. I fill my writing time with criticism and doubt over every word choice and plot twist. And minutiae like a character’s hair and eye color shifting from one chapter to another. Tracking and changing all of that is hard, time-consuming, and sometimes boring. I am not loving editing my own work.
NaNo is all about the abandonment of self-criticism, the free-form crazed writing that gets done at break-neck speed with little regard to punctuation or repetition. No editing, no re-reading, just writing and getting that first crappy draft out there. It’s a completely different process than editing a rough into something more polished.
NaNo is a distraction from that hard work I am doing on a novel whose arc is known and familiar. It’s filled with the unknown and the process of meeting new characters, new plot twists and new ideas. New words. Fun.
To NaNo or not to NaNo….