The twilight of the year
On (mostly) forgetting about Nanowrimo, and the year's end
This newsletter has made various efforts at marking National Novel Writing Month in the past — last year, I made some nods to the occasion, and the year before I did a monthlong series with my friend and editor extraordinaire Rebecca Faith Heyman. We made handouts and did Instagram lives and in general content-created our little hearts out.
This year I forgot it was happening. I’m a member of a large Slack group and was reminded of its existence by a message popping up the week before hand asking who was participated, and unthinkingly I said yes. Yes of course, I’m going to try to NaNo! I do every year, don’t I? Pals, if I thought writing was hard before, it’s like pulling teeth to get words on the page these days. I’ll be lucky if I hit 10,000 words this month, let alone 50,000.
But honestly? That’s okay! NaNoWriMo is always an impossible, ridiculous challenge, and those who routinely hit the kind of word count that would make Stephen King drool are worthy of accolades. As the weeks went by, however, and both my failure at nanowrimo and my lack of progress on this newsletter made me feel like a fraud of the worst variety, it was a real struggle to not beat myself up over my lack of progress.
Sometimes it feels like this newsletter is just a long litany of excuses—I’m busy, I’m tired, I have too much to do, I’m working. When I get into this headspace it’s hard to snap out of it and remember that much of this attitude can be attributed to good-old Protestant-capitalist pressure: you work hard, and then you die, and then you get into Heaven. Or something like that. It takes a lot to knock me out of this mindset because it’s all around us: “Rise and Grind,” #winning, even NaNoWriMo itself. If we’re not doing everything, all the time, then we must suck, right?
Absolutely the fuck not! That’s garbage talk. Any act of creation is an act of sanity in an insane world: a world that wants to crush any impulse towards questioning or creativity under the boot-heel of capitalism. And any chance you get to take a break from that grind, do it. Especially if it will be at all replenishing for you.
I’ve been in Paris for the last eight days, thanks my good friends Ellen and Delia, and will be here a day and a half more. I’ve been walking absolutely everywhere, touristing my little heart out. It wasn’t until the day before yesterday, when I visited the Catacombs and the Cimitière Montparnasse in the same morning, that I realized what I’d unconsciously done: I’d arranged the sites I wanted to see according to their relation to my work-in-progress, a fantasy novel with a lot of death-related magic in it.
I was a little embarassed that it took me nearly a week to figure this out. After all, I’ve been planning this trip for over a month, and you’d think somewhere in between buying the Lonely Planet Guide to Paris and putting all the sites I wanted to visit into google maps that I’d figure out over half of them were memorials, cemeteries, or churches. Listen, I never said I was quick on the uptake.
I’ve been working almost nonstop for months, which is the only way that I can afford to take December off, but already after eight days of vacation I can feel my somewhat-wizened creative muscles start to flex again. I’ve had two writing dates with a new-to-me writing friend here in Paris (I’m writing this newsletter on one of them right now! Hi Anne!) and can see the light at the end of the tunnel for this draft. Maybe taking an extended break isn’t in the cards for you, but as we get closer and closer to the holidays and the end of the year, I hope you can take some time for yourself away from the frenzied pace that the social media industrial complex would have you follow. I hope you have some time to yourself to rest and reflect. Fill that well, as best you can, and I’ll see you in the new year. (Unless I can get it together to do my holiday gift guide, in which case, you’ll see me next week.)
WHAT I’M READING
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, the first entry in In Search of Lost Time. When in Paris, eh? Also finishing up Lies Sleeping, the fifth Peter Grant book.
My first novel, Marrying In, is available for purchase on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, and is coming soon to iBooks. If you’ve read it, consider leaving a review—that helps me and the book in the long run!
I’m available to hire for freelance editing services on Reedsy. You can find me on social media on Twitter, Instagram, the A Faster No Discord, and now TikTok. If you buy any of the books linked in this newsletter I receive a small commission at no cost to you.