There’s a scene in Office Space where the efficiency experts, The Bobs, are reading the names of people they are going to fire to Peter and they get to Samir’s file. “And this guy…Na-een…Na…Not gonna be working here”
That only comes to mind because it is 2 days after NaNoWriMo is officially over for the year. For me, it was probably over before it began. I didn’t really have a clear plan and didn’t really account for well, life, to be honest. As with all things NaNo, there is no one to blame for it but me. And that’s OK.
I can’t say that I wrote every single day of the month. I didn’t. I can’t say that I hit fifty-thousand works at the miraculous 11th hour. My logged seven-thousand words clearly indicate that didn’t happen.
But, I did have something of a breakthrough this year that I didn’t have in years prior. A couple of them, actually.
The first is something I’ve seen at other points in my life. I need to be around people. Not really to compete against, but to draw inspiration from. The number of actual write-ins I attended this year was less than 3. My word count shows that. There were times I felt fairly isolated this month. I don’t put that on anyone but me. I had a calendar of events I could have attended. I had the NaNo calendar of events close by–hell, less than 2 miles, but I didn’t. Don’t know why. I may dissect that later, next year when it gets closer to NaNo. I may not. Which leads to the second epiphany of sorts.
The only person putting pressure on me to “win” NaNo was…you guessed it. Me. I didn’t quite have a breakdown this month, but I had a few near misses that would qualify as mini-anxiety attacks, I’m sure. I was certain that I would be letting this person down or that person would be pissed if I didn’t do this thing or that in November. And in the end, I shut down. On my birthday I woke up and decided that I was doing something for me. And I did.
And it was rather liberating, if I’m being honest.
I’m going to pause here. I know that I have some friends who, like me, sometimes internalize and overthink things. I want to be very clear about why I ‘failed’ (and ultimately won) the whole NaNo thing this month. It had nothing to do with anyone but me. I applied the pressure. The voices I was guided (and/or misled) by were the ones in my head. No one else. Me.
That simple fact is also the reason that I won, if you will.
The ultimate epiphany was that I am traveling this writer’s path for me. For the stories I have to tell. For the songs I have to write. For the pictures I have yet to pen. Don’t get me wrong, I hope you’ll share that with me. And if you like the yarns I’m spinning, awesome. If you don’t, that’s OK, too.
I think the real goal of NaNo, albeit not explicitly stated anywhere that I’ve seen, is that participants come away from the month feeling like, thinking like, and believing themselves to be real writers.
And I did. Because I am. I am a writer. I went through the real writer shit of getting so hyperfocused on the minutia of life that I forgot that my shield, my armor, my weapons against the mediocrity of life are the words I put to page. My way to escape this world is to create my own and play around in them for a while.
So, in that sense, NaNo succeeded. And did I win? Yes. And No. It really just depends on who’s definition you’re using.
If it’s OK with you, I’ll use mine. Well…I guess if I’m paying attention to my own epiphanies, the fact is, it doesn’t matter if it’s ok with you or not. I need to do the thing my way.
I didn’t quite catch it happening as quickly this time, but I do seem to have something of a chrysalis forming around me. I didn’t notice it, but standing outside myself, looking down, I do see that it’s there. I’m usually pretty good about identifying and embracing the moments in my life when these kinds of things happen…ok. No, I’m not. Normally I think something feels ‘off’ and I write some blog posts where I say that I feel like I’m on the verge of something big happening. And if something big happens, I write a ‘see how cool that was’ post. If it doesn’t, I distract you with a post on the futility of trying to compare Chicago to New York style pizzas to one another (seriously, just don’t. Nobody wins if you exclude either of these pieces of heaven from your pizza repertoire).
So, here’s the prediction. The change that I feel like I’m on the cusp of is the same one that’s always been there. The one that is finally me embracing this life and my role in it. The scales finally falling away from my eyes, if you will. Embracing the gifts and the path and the…
Fuck it. Honestly, I have no idea.
I just know I love to write. I need to write.
So I’m going to keep doing that and let’s just see where this thing goes.