Who is freaking out right now?
No, not because you stuffed yourself with too much turkey and stuffing yesterday! Or because you missed the JC Penney special holiday sale opening at five this morning.
I mean because you're trying to finish up your NaNoWriMo book as desperately as I am, and you just realized you only have SEVEN DAYS LEFT to do it.
I don't want to make you feel worse or anything. I want to make you feel better, to let you know you're not alone!
It is likely that those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo are beginning to suffer the physical effects of your month-long writing marathon: sore wrists from typing so much; acid reflux from your irregular and possibly ill-advised midnight forays into the kitchen; cellulite from such long periods of inactivity; snakebelly (what I call it when your belly is bulging out from too much food and not enough exercise, always particularly noticeable when you write in bed on a laptop and your abdomen, instead of lying flat like those people on TV, keeps getting in the way of the keyboard); and of course headaches from staring so long at a flickering computer screen.
This is a perfectly natural part of the novel writing process—especially seven days before your book is supposed to be due. If you're like me, not only are you suffering from all of the above, but you also HATE your book right now, and are thinking about quitting and maybe starting a whole new book. Possibly something with witches or ghosts in it.
Or maybe you are even thinking of quitting writing altogether and starting a new career, possibly in the fashion retail business (such as, at JC Penney).
DON'T! I know from experience that you'll regret it. For one thing, the fashion retail business has its pitfalls, too. Think about what it would be like to be there today, for instance, on the busiest shopping day of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Think about how many sweaters you'd have to refold.
It's far better simply to finish the book you've started, THEN see how you feel about a new career and/or moving on to a witch or ghost book.
Look, you've come so far. How many words do you have? Probably enough so that you're more than halfway finished. KEEP AT IT. Just remember these immortal words:
Your book doesn't suck as much as you think it does.
It doesn't, okay? It CAN'T. It never does.
Just say it, like a mantra: My book doesn't suck as much as I think it does.
When I get to this point in the novel writing process—so close to being finished, and yet so far–I enter what I call “lockdown” mode. Or, to quote Eddie Murphy from Beverly Hills Cop, I go “deep, deep, DEEP undercover.” I speak or see no one, because doing so might break my momentum (husbands and email not included). I barely leave the house. I don't read any books I haven't read before, because I wouldn't want to inadvertently start stealing some other author's voice. I don't watch any “Oscar” worthy movies, because really powerful movies sometimes cause me to make rash decisions about my plot—like that it sucks, and that having a character start learning to box, become paralyzed, then have her trainer/manager euthanize her, is the perfect way to fix it.
No! AVOID THIS!
Movies that don't have Oscar buzz—I recommend the film from which I posted the video snip at the end of my last blog entry: the hilarious movie SUPERSTAR, starring the comic genius Molly Shannon, a must see for discerning film viewers and anyone who has ever had a dream—are the only safe movies for you to view at this point in your novel writing endeavor. SUPERSTAR, or perhaps JUST FRIENDS, starring that guy who is engaged to Alanis Morisette (or IS he?).
Look, you only have a week left: you can go without seeing any of your friends or new books or movies for that long. YOU CAN DO IT.
You know what I wonder? How writers who take a year or longer to write their books do it. How do they go into lockdown for a YEAR? Or MORE? How do they stay deep, deep, DEEP undercover for months and months at a time? I mean, unless they're the Unabomber.
I have decided that they don't. Those other writers must have the ability to go out and live normal lives, seeing people, watching Oscar-buzz movies, reading (gasp) new books, AND STILL WRITE THEIR NOVEL AT THE SAME TIME.
How do they do that? I don't know. It is bewildering to me, as I know it probably is to you. I asked one of them once, and she blinked at me confusedly, clearly having NO IDEA WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT. “Lockdown?” she echoed. “What is lockdown?”
Another one I asked looked at me and went, “I write from nine until two. Then I am done for the day. That's how I do it.”
I WRITE FROM NINE UNTIL TWO THEN I AM DONE FOR THE DAY!!!! BRILLIANT!!!! GENIUS!!!!
Too bad I don't have that kind of discipline. Or lifestyle. I write when I can, whenever I can, because I guess that's how I learned to do it–snatching moments of writing time whenever I could. Because stuff HAPPENS. I mean, what about Rosie's feud with Kelly? What about husbands who want to go out to breakfast? What if one of your cats gets sick and has to go to the vet? What if your dentist is always making you come in to get your tartar scraped? What if you have houseguests? What if someone on your street is having a tree removed and you have to go watch in case it slips and accidentally squashes the Conch Train? What about lunch? What if your housekeeper shows up unexpectedly insisting on washing your TaB-soaked sheets? What if it's sunny? Should you really be writing during prime tanning hours (with 30SPF of course Dr. Berman)? WHAT ABOUT CAR CHASES ON CNN????
But now I have something to aim for, because I totally want to be THAT KIND of writer.
The 9 to 2 kind.
In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be in bed, writing the last 10,000 words of my book. Don't interrupt me…
…unless there's a car chase. Or you have chocolate of course.