If there’s one thing this month has taught me, it’s that I’ve spent too much of my life idolizing books. Not in the “Oh, I really like books” way, but in the “books are EVERYTHING to me” way that is the road to danger.
Not only does the idolising of books really screw up my priorities, it has really screwed me up as a writer. Instead of seeing a book as an enjoyable commodity like a pizza or a movie or a massage I have viewed them as a sort of paragon of becoming.
And so I’ve never been able to finish writing one. I have started more really poor and really mediocre novels over the last 20 years than they sell on the racks at Kroger. I’ve even started two or three very good ones. None of them are finished. Because I can’t bring myself to that natural next step of having my stuff turned into AN ACTUAL BOOK.
Now, I know this sounds arrogant. As though all it will take for me to get a book published is to finish writing one. I know for sure that’s not the case. But I do also know without a doubt that no unfinished book of mine is going to get published. I’m not Dead Charles Dickens, Dead Michael Crichton or Dead And Fake Carolyn Keene.
That’s what NaNoWriMo has done for me. It’s shown me that novels get written one day at a time. But they do get written if you keep at it day after day. And they are not mystical unicorns impossible to seize. I’m starting to view writing fiction in the same way I’ve come to view writing my blog. Some days will have great output, some days won’t have any. Some things I say may really engage one, two or five or a thousand people. Some things may fall flat. But they’re really just words. And like making dinner or making love, it is what it is. Great or awkward, steamy or burned, it’s never a total loss. And there’s always next time. All you have to do is keep showing up.