"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ask not what you can do for Nanowrimo, but what Nanowrimo can do for you (and still make a donation)

I've been saying for a long time now that before I can experiment with writing prose (essay and short story) that I need to complete my poetry manuscript. A few weeks ago I woke up with the knowledge that it was time to commit to writing the prose, to moving on to a new project, that "shiny new thing" as Neil Gaiman called it in this talk at Google Authors.  Taking on this new project in no way means I'm leaving the manuscript in the dust.  In fact, I have a new fire under my butt to get it ready for submission.

Some of you have committed to Nanowrimo and some are still on the fence.  Nanowrimo.org inspires and supports nearly 300,000 writers each November to write the first draft or 50,000 words of a novel (or other prose/hybrid creation) by November 30th.

Here's an excerpt I'm reading by Elisa Albert from her essay titled The Snarling Girl that might speak towards making this commitment:

"I write to make sense of things, to make order from chaos, to make something from nothing, to examine my own thinking. Because what I have found in the writing of others sustains me. Because while I am struggling to live, the writing—a kind of parallel life—helps me along. Because language is my jam. Because I never learned to play the guitar and no one ever asked me to sing in a band.
I mean, writing is liberation! Or so I tell my students, over and over and over again. Flex your muscles, I tell them. Feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair! Struggle with your shortcomings. Leave everything out on the field! Do it again tomorrow! What rigor. What joy. What privilege. Say whatever the hell you want to say, however you most accurately can! Complete and utter freedom. Work.

And this:

"'The notes for the poem are the only poem,' wrote Adrienne Rich. There it is. There’s my ambition: Notes.

And then this too:

"Keep your head down. Do your work. Focus on the work at hand, not the work that’s done. Do the work you’re called upon to do. Engage with what moves you. Eventually you’ll get recognition. And if you don’t get recognition? Well then, all the more badass to continue working your butt off. Recognition has nothing to do with the work, get it? The work is the endeavor. The work is the process. Recognition comes, if/when it does, for work that is already done, work that is over. Recognition can really fuck you up. Remember the famous koan? The day before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; the day after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. Substitute recognition for enlightenment, putting aside how ironic that is, and there you have it."

So - personally, I'm looking forward to having a fire under my ass to do the work I've been talking about for a while.  That's what we'll offer each other, myself and my writing buddies.  And some good opportunities to write and drink wine together!

If you are working on a novel, memoir, or book-length writing project, get in touch with me - maybe you'll want to join our writing tribe this November or the revision workshop I'll offer in January to follow up on our 50,000 word drafts!  More on that workshop later -