To borrow from the worn phrases of our day that speak to procrastination, it’s time to fish or cut bait; it’s time to write or get off the ergonomic office chair. It’s time to find out if both elements of this contention are indeed true: “Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.”
For the first time since “becoming” a writer (being overtaken by the compelling need to inflict my “hydrovehicular” stories I used to only tell to myself–in the shower and when driving alone in the car–to the public eye) I’m very tempted to join thousands of other desperate word-impacted souls in National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo. The notion keeps coming back to me after I reject it and move on.
Nah. I won’t do it. I have a long list of excuses why not.
First, I don’t do fiction. I have no concept of plot development if not from my own experience. I have no story in mind, though I can come up with quite a few just by scanning the morning’s headlines. It would take every spare minute in-between things to which I am already committed. And I would fail. But who besides me would know or care?
On the other hand, if I’m ever to do something like this and break away from my current limit of 800 word chunks of thought on the page, it will require some kind of external accountability like NaNoWriMo to make me cross the threshold from non-fiction into fiction. If I’m ever going to do it any place but in my head in the shower or the car while my hands, eyes and brain still grudgingly cooperate in the process, it should be NOW.
After all, I have no plans otherwise. My work as a physical therapist is over; I don’t think I’ll attempt to renew my license. We talked last night about my drawing on Social Security starting in six months So this is where I came in, back in 2002, when my career vanished like frost on the barn roof at sunrise and I didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. Pass the popcorn.
I write every day–not obsessively but from some inner drive to dig amongst the ruins of memory convinced there might be treasures there; I rummage the past and presentÂ for things lost or invisible in front of my eyes;Â I excavate the small details of daily life to find patterns of meaning and fragments of some larger whole. I have drawers full of pieces.
I find words in every image I take and all the ones I only see. I am full of stories. But they by themselves do not make a novel. What is my narrative thread? Is there a WHY other than the empty hole in my raison d’etre?
I, of course, magnify the depth of my emptiness. I have, even without my two-day-a-week professional existence, some structure and focus and projects in mid-stream. I would not be bored without giving birth to a prematureÂ novel. Still, I wonder if I’ve done everything I’m going to do with words.
Could this be a turning point–similar to the 2002 epiphany when I first read the words “creative non-fiction” and found to my surprise that I was full of it (take that any way you want)?
A 50,000 word novel might come from one man’s life alone on the land–which is pretty much what the heart of this blog has centered around–sprinkled with some dialogue, soliloquy, context of place with particular details to the landform and nature. The story could be complicated by larger environmental issues that overtake his life and the societal changes that brings to his small community. There could be a dog. He might be a photographer and a writer, with intakes that include a few of his columns or journal entries. Maybe he’d struggle to live off the land–eat mice like Farley Mowat– and take in strangers, and grow wise.
Nah. MeNoWriMo. However, Ann is working Saturday. And I ain’t dead yet.