Up until last night, a feeling of dread had been growing within me, a darkness gathering in my mind as the end of October approached. I was not fearing the ghouls and monsters of Halloween, but of the imminent arrival of National Novel Writing Month.
Last year, I successfully completed the challenge, writing my first completed novel “Daytripper” in those 30 days, based on a shred of an idea and going in a completely different direction than the original concept. It was a good experience, forcing myself to write like that, but the fact is, “Daytripper” still sits in a drawer, unrevised save for a single run through. At 50K words, it is too short for a novel and too long for a novella. There are things in it — plot elements, characters, scenes and ideas — that I love, but it is mostly terrible. I don’t know what to do with it, so I had decided that I would use NaNoWriMo this year to create a fresh draft of “Daytripper” and maybe, just maybe, between the two I could create a novel I felt good about publishing.
The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it is (intentionally) intense and consuming. It eats the month of November. Last year, my wife was wonderfully accommodating as I sequestered myself night after night in my basement office (if one could call a room filled with comics, RPG manuals and video games an “office”). This year, my Novemeber is already half consumed by other activities, from a game convention to a scouting overnight to a wedding anniversary retreat. As November approached, I tried to calculate how many words I would have to write a day to accommodate all the days I could not be writing, and I despaired.
But the real reason I dreaded the arrival of NaNoWriMo is that I do not know if I want to revise “Daytripper.” I do not know if there is a good enough story in there to make a novel worth my time to write it and your time to read it. That kind of uncertainty is telling, I think. there are other novels I want to write (eventually) that I am certain are worth the time, but I am less certain about my ability to write those novels just yet. Part of the reason for that is I read far fewer novels than I should, and I need to remedy that before I can successfully write one.
So, for me, NaNoWriMo will become NaNoReMo — National Novel READING Month. There are a number of novels, from light YA fare to classics of English Literature, I have always meant to read. So instead of burning all that time writing a terrible novel, I choose to read a few good ones.