November is National Novel Writing Month, and I’m all signed up for NaNoWriMo! Okay, so I’m a few days late. Have any of you ever known me to be on time for anything?? Go to www.NaNoWriMo.org for more info, but basically it’s a nationwide project where we crazies pledge to write an entire novel in exactly one month!
My good friend, Tina Nichols Coury, once told me that John Lennon (yes, that John Lennon!) said he wrote his very best songs in the back of the car on the way to the studio. I believe he personally said this to Tina’s husband several times back in the day, when they hung out together. Long story! Anyway, though I’ve never been a “work better under pressure” kind of person, I think of John Lennon’s words often. And, these days, I’m finding that I actually do some of my best work with a self- or agent-imposed deadline. Who knew?
After the recent release of two YA novels (that shall remain nameless) that share the exact same premise as my YA love story work-in-progress that I’ve been obsessed with for the past year, I had exactly two days to re-think, re-synopsize and re-write my story, so that it would not appear to be a knock-off of either of these critically acclaimed YA masterpieces (even though I had the idea way before coming across either of these). Whew! What a fun 48 hours! The reason for the deadline is that I’m attending the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop at the end of November, and had to FedEx part of the ms for editorial critique by, um, yesterday. And the reason I started the process so late is because I didn’t finish revising my MG novel for my agent until Wednesday. So, I re-started my YA book at midnight Thursday. NaNoWriMo to the rescue!
Even though I was heartbroken to abandon my genius hook and plot, I found that working under the gun actually worked to my advantage. Lack of sleeping, eating, and bathing does wonders for my creative side. I watched a Charles Schulz biography on TV recently that described his battle with depression. He used to withdraw from society for long stretches of time, hole up in his office with only paper and ink, and, ironically, create his very best work. I’m not suggesting that anybody submit to depression on purpose to enhance his or her creative work, but I’m finding that sometimes I do my best work when I’m somewhat withdrawn and “in my own head” for a while. Which translates into refusing to take calls, emails, or visitors for awhile. Sorry, Jay and Robin!
But, I digress. The idea of NaNoWriMo freaked me out at first. I thought How? Why? But when I realized that I had no choice but to write a whole new novel in one month (the Big Sur Workshop starts on November 30th, and I need to have a crappy first draft complete by then), I said, “Bring it!” And then I said, “It’s already been brough’in!” And then I said, “Si, se puede!” *
Happy NaNoWriMo! Please let me know if you are one of the “crazies” who signed up, too!
* Please forgive the inside-jokes aimed at Robin :)