November 30, 2001: I completed Not The Greatest Story Ever Told, my shithouse NaNoWriMo “novel”:
November 30, 2011: I finished Not The Greatest Story Ever Told II!
There’s been a major word drought since I wrote that book. I’ve oscillated between “what kind of dickhead writes about themselves like that?” over-exposed deer-in-headlights-let’s-hide-from-the-world-forever terror, and the “you’re no writer, you just got lucky coz there weren’t many Fat Girl Loses Lard memoirs at the time and now you got NOTHING!” feelings of utter fraudulence.
As a result everything I’ve written over the past four years has been torn up in a huff. That is, when I managed to write anything at all. I’ve pretty much been too shitscared to even try.
In late October there were the usual NaNoWriMo mutterings on Twitter and I realised it was ten years since I last completed the 50,000 words in 30 days madness. I thought I’d give it another go. I confessed my plans to my pal Naomi, who I got to know this year through Up & Running. She is a proper author of multiple novels! She was awesomely encouraging and said, “Just make sure you don’t make this another stick to beat yourself up with”.
She used a great running analogy: I’d been doing the writing equivalent of sitting on the couch – feck all activity for years. Going straight into a novel would be like going straight from the couch to marathon training. I understood perfectly – knowing me, I’d push too hard too soon and bust my writerly joints, declare it all too much, then wind up back on the couch doing nowt!
She had a cool idea that was more like training for a 5K – she kindly sent me a copy of A Writer’s Book Of Days, a book of daily writing prompts. So instead of a terrible novel, I wrote terrible short stories in November.
I guess that means it doesn’t really count as a NaNoWriMo effort, but to me it felt like a bloody huge triumph. The writing was so bad I’d snort at the screen with laughter, but I remembered what we always say to our 5K Course runners: don’t worry about the quality of the workout – the goal is simply to get the fucker done.
Since November I’ve kept up the daily prompts. I have no goal in mind other than to just keep writing and keep building the muscle. Who knows what happens after that but it’s a good start. I’m also approximately 137% less grumpy now that I’m writing again.