I’m no longer a National Novel Writing Month virgin. Or at least I think I’m not. Do you have to complete the whole month before you’re no longer a first-timer?
I signed up for NaNoWriMo because I need an extra push. I want to flail outside of my boundaries. I want to get good and uncomfortable and write when I’m exhausted and write when I’m crying and write when, holy shit, I want to do anything and everything in the world but write.
The first day kicked off splendidly. I finished with 2,946 words and wrote through most of the afternoon and part of the evening. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I worked on a nonfiction/poetry manuscript and not my novel (why, or why, isn’t it called National Nonfiction and Poetry Writing Month?). I’m counting it regardless. Is that cheating? No matter. Writing is writing and honey, I worked for those words.
Yet the biggest discovery so far, and granted it’s only been one day, is the realization of how often I delay writing because I fear that I’m not good enough, that what I write won’t be good enough. That I don’t have the talent or the voice or imagination. That my ideas are lame. That my characters are lame. That this person’s style or voice or book proposal is better and therefore I might as well just give it up, open a bag of pretzels, stuff my face and watch Netflix.
I spent the weekend finishing up a chapbook submission, an experimental piece that blends memoir and poetry and jumps between time and first- and third-person. Whenever I came up for air, this prissy little voice would reprimand me. You can’t switch POV, it said. You can’t suddenly stick a poem about grass in the middle of writing about your dead father. You can’t use repetition so liberally. You can’t ….
I don’t know where this voice came from but it was exhausting trying to shut it up once it began. No doubt it was my own fear or insecurity talking, or perhaps even my inner common sense because, face it, it’s a hell of a lot easier to give up and not try than to risk failure and rejection (and with acceptance rates at around 1-2% for most chapbook contests, I predict an ample amount of rejection in my life).
But enough about me. It’s time to move on. I read some incredible pieces this past weekend and can’t wait to share my new writerly crushes.
Vertebrate, Joyce Chong’s poem in “Maudlin House,” moves me in an odd and delicious sense. It’s quite delicious. Here’s a beginning tease:
he uses my spine as a doorstop,
lets the angular bone of my first lumbar
prop books open, & sometimes acts
as a hastily found paperweight.
American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel by Josh Dean in “Medium” follows the case of a young woman who disappeared in a Los Angeles hotel, only to be found dead in the rooftop water tank. The hotel security cameras recorded footage in the elevator of the woman acting strangely, prompting people to believe the hotel was haunted. What is so great about this piece is Dean’s curiosity, which can be felt between each line. The ending is beautiful. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys long-form journalism.
And lastly, this is where I escaped when I got sick of writing and had to get out of the house. Not a bad view, eh?
Have a great week, everyone.