Saturday, November 2, 2013

The NaNoWriMo Worm

The NaNoWriMo month has come again, like Jason knocking on the door with a creative chainsaw in hand, demanding another fifty fucking thousand words of tribute - OR ELSE! The last thing I need at this time of year is this annual dollop of writerly guilt added to the angst-ridden heap already cluttering my virtual desk.

It isn't as if I haven't been productive. I just wrote a humorous short story while struggling with a collaboration and cranking a dozen new sentences into a revision requested by an editor, as well as going over galleys until my eyes began to boil.  These things take time and each carries a time-bound load of obligation to be discharged. Yeah, that and the random rantings I commit that add to the unfinished draft pile-o'-guilt.

Each year at this time I have a moment of cold reflection and wonder whether I have the fortitude, courage, or willingness to embark on developing more of the fledgling novel I attempted last year (and the year before, to be honest.)  Write, write, write the NaNoWriMo cries while my own worm of time eats at my temporal gut: would the level of risk in expending a month of time and effort on a single novel really worth it?  What is the value of risking that my fifty or a hundred thousand burst of words may never be read by another soul?  

Consider the economics of the situation: would the same amount of time and creative energy be better be spent writing short stories, one or two of which might eventually see publication?  At Rio Hondo Paolo Bacigalupi observed that unless your joy comes from the writing of a long work you should not consider doing it.  But to me, at least the prospect of spending a month writing something that may never touch someone's heart appears pointless.  I have no illusions that any draft I may create during the NaNoWriMo period will be in any way superior to another's or even that it might convey some unique insight on the human condition. Contrariwise, I have more than a reasonable expectation that my quota of fifty thousand words might be more elegantly employed in writing (and editing) short, incisive works.

So, at this point of my life I face a choice: to continue to write short stories in hopes that a few might eventually find market, or to spend my remaining time writing, marketing, and promoting a longer work.  There are not years enough for both so I must choose, and soon.  NaNoWriMo has started and I am already three thousand words behind.

The worm of time consumes the moments remaining and I must use them wisely.


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