It’s the first day of November and I’m extending my streak to twenty years of not participating in NaNoWriMo. If that term is unfamiliar and you don’t have the inclination to click on the link that I toiled and sweated over — not that I’m complaining — here’s an abbreviated introduction.
NaNoWriMo is twee code for “National Novel Writing Month.” It began in 1999 as a way to encourage people to write a 50,000 word (or longer) novel during the thirty days of the month. That works out to 1,666.666667 words per day, by the way; I assume the numbers to the right of the decimal represent punctuation, if one indulges in such plebeian undertakings. According to the website (feel free to visit it should you doubt my reporting), 21 people participated in the first edition. In 2017, more than 300,000 aspiring novelists around the world participated. NaNoWriMo has expanded its scope by becoming a non-profit organization tasked with supporting and encouraging writers year-round, not just in November, although that 50,000 word deal is still what it’s best known for. All that is noble as a grape, to quote a famous space pirate.
Every year, I spend literally minutes thinking about participating. I could be the next…I don’t know…who’s a good novelist? Stevie King? Aggie Christie? Little Johnny Grisham? And then reality sets it. I manage to write about three blog posts a month, none of them approaching 1,666.666667 words (although I DO use a lot of commas and parentheses and that’s not nothing), so upping that output and extending it to a daily occurrence is about as likely as the Washington Nationals winn…oh, never mind. Bad metaphor. Or simile. Or…something. Definitely not an onomatopoeia.
It’s not just that I can’t gin out a bunch of words, it’s also that I have nothing interesting to say that would warrant a torrent. (OK, that was pretty cool, if I do say so myself.) Literary creativity is not my strong suit, or at least as it applies to an actual plot. I mean, I founded this blog on the goal of providing quality Content Free™ writing, and I’m proud to say that I’ve rarely let my readers down in that regard. But it’s not because I’m intentionally trying by curbing my innate talents. As the prophet Harry Callahan wisely observed, a man’s got to know his own limitations, and mine are tightly clustered around a lack of sustainable creativity. And I’m fine with that; I really am. I’ve come to embrace my narrow focus on topics of little-to-no interest to Main Street, coupled with a writing style that calls for large doses of Ritalin and/or The Botanist.
So, I tip my cap to those aspiring or accomplished writers who have committed themselves to the admirable discipline of pounding the keyboard for the next thirty days in hopes that range from “this will be the next NYT best seller” to “this will chase away those personal demons that continue to plague me” or “my bucket list will then be one item shorter,” because all of those motivations are worthy.
As for me, I plan to focus on my plan of not having a plan and being surprised at how things work out.
By the way, according to Microsoft Word, I’ve just written 538 words, not including this graf (I got no credit for punctuation; thanks a bunch, Bill Gates), and I’m spent. Time for a nap.