Another one bites the dust. NaNoWriMo has come to an end, and despite my rush of enthusiasm at the beginning, and my best intentions throughout the month of November, I did not finish my 50 000 words. Instead I got taken up with music exams, choir practice and obsessively playing the Sims on Facebook in order to avoid having to think of something to write.
My animals have also been extremely helpful this month in encouraging me to not reach my goal. The cat, Madala (‘old man’ in Setswana) has adopted my desk as his favourite place to sleep and chill out during the day. This has made me feel that I can’t even get started until I have cleaned the layer of cat fur and cat-imported dust smattering off my desk. But there are times, many times…most times, in fact… when I have lost the will to disturb him after I have been repeatedly mewed at to feed him, or pay him some kind of attention, mostly at 5am. Not the time of day when I am most inclined to clean up after him. Or get started with work.
Then there is the dog. Nala, our delinquent Boerboel/goat sleeps on the paving outside my office window. Every time there is a slight movement outside the gate, she barks suddenly, and I accidentally hit backspace and lose the last three sentences. Or put down a word that I don’t want to in Scrabble. Scrabble becomes a wonderful distraction. I can justify playing Scrabble because it’s a word game and therefore it is working…sort of. It’s the same with Word Chaos. I tell myself that I am exercising my brain and my vocabulary by thinking of as many words as possible in 30 seconds, or making up new combinations of letters in Scrabble in an endless quest to defeat my grandmother once and for all, and then entering them in the Scrabble dictionary and discovering that my interesting combination is actually a real word with a totally obscure meaning.
So you see, there are real reasons that I didn’t finish my novel. None that would make sense to to anyone else, or be meaningful in anything other than an ‘I just didn’t get round to it’ sense, but at least there are ways to justify it to myself. And there is always next year. So, oh well… And on to the next project – Christmas….
Welcome to NaNoWriMo! Or so it says. I don’t know that ‘welcome’ is how I feel. Daunted? Yes. Intimidated? A bit. Motivated? I’m working on it.
The idea is that you write a 50 000 word novel in the month of November. So I signed up. My sister is doing it too, so she’s my writing buddy. Never mind that I’ve never wanted to write a novel particularly. My leaning is definitely more towards non-fiction than fiction. But the site asked all kinds of questions about my novel so I chose a genre (Literary Fiction), a working title (Kalahari Rain?) and a name for my main character (Phyllis). And here we are on Remembrance Day, 11 days into the month, and instead of being my usual self who can happily write 1000 words an hour, I am now stuck on 2066 words in total with no idea where to go next. Suddenly, even accomplishing 150 words a day has become a struggle. My talent for procrastination, always pronounced, has achieved epic proportions. The fridge is emptying at a rapid rate. My desk has never been so clean. And I have never taken quite so many turns in Scrabble on Facebook. I find myself joining conversations and commenting on friends’ posts on Facebook when I haven’t seen or spoken to them since primary school. I check Twitter obsessively. I feel the urge to call people I haven’t spoken to in months, mostly because we have nothing to speak about, all in the name of avoidance. And the part that scares me the most is that in pursuing this goal, I have become my mother!
My mother is one of the most creative people I know and an incredibly talented artist, but it takes more work to get her to paint than it does for her to actually finish the painting. I have always wondered why it was so hard for her to get going, but now I understand. And I find that I cannot blame her anymore. Now I know just how bad it is to be disturbed during the day. When I have laid careful plans and structured my time, the phone rings. I get an email that’s not urgent or important but suddenly seems that way. I have drunk more tea in these 11 days than I have for the past 3 months combined. I am awash with tea. And my blog has joined the list of possible distractions. I justify it by saying, ‘well, at least I’m writing something’, but that isn’t really helping me achieve my 50 000 words.
I understand that distraction and procrastination are the constant companions of the creative person, so I’m working hard on being more disciplined. In the meantime, I think my cupboards need sorting…