Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Last month was National Novel Writing Month, and I failed miserably, again, although last year I didn't even try. This year I actually tried -I signed up, I had a plan, I started a new blog, and then I quit on Day 1. How did you do?

I was really going to do it, too. Years back I wrote a lengthy, ambitious screenplay with a dumb, pretentious title and I always thought it would make a fun book. Recently, the idea of sitting back every night for an hour or so and having some creative time, hammering out a novel, sounded like a good idea, and one I was ready for. But November turned out to be too busy with all that work, and running, and then there were all those time-sucking holidays. Seems I just can't write a novel in any month with a holiday in it. Maybe January, but then there's MLK day smack in the middle of it, messing up everything.

The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month, just for the sake of doing it and calling it a novel. It's not really that much. People don't realize how little that is, how easy that is to reach, how, by the end of this paragraph, I will have already logged 250 words in this post alone. My word count for TMST in November was 10,000, (It is. I counted.) and I practically did that in my sleep. Why I don't just pump out novels is like asking why you do all those 20 milers, but never run a marathon. There's a reason for it, I'm sure.

Crying babies. Needy customers. The stress of day-to-day living. I used to pride myself in the fact that I could concentrate within the fracas, write with the music blasting, work under pressure. Whether that was ever true is no matter, I can't do it any more. I guess I'm getting old. I need peace. I need quiet. I need space.

So, maybe some day. I could have just uploaded all the blogs and declared myself a winner. (There is no prize, by the way, but bragging rights. Hell, they don't even offer to read the book for you, and that's the hardest part of the whole endeavor -courting or conning someone into reading your dumpy novel.) I'm not sure there's a definite arc to my blog's characters, however. It would make for an odd work. I can see the book jacket:

Written in a uniquely hypnotic, free-form style in the literary tradition of Joyce and Faulkner, Hawkins abandons all the conventional aspects of language and trailblazes to the frontier of the artistry, or, at least, proficient chicken scratch. The uncommonly compelling story follows The Family Ditchman, their adventures in the aluminum patio cover industry, and their travails and triumphs in a suburban cul-de-sac.

And beneath it, a quote from someone famous:

"You won't be able to put it down! At least, not without bullets. Hey, when the horse has broken legs, what good is it?" -Margaret Thatcher

Seriously, the Little Digger is screaming his head off right now and I can't put two words together. I had something I wanted to say, here, and it has been cried out of the building. I guess that's why I run -It doesn't involve me being in the house. Speaking of running, I get a lot of great ideas out there on the run, but I can never remember them when I get back.

I can't remember anything when there's noise, and hardly more when there's not. You'd think the deafness of old age would contribute to brilliant writing, but the forgetfulness that accompanies it precludes this. So I can run marathons at 40, but I can't finish a novel. At this age, mid-life, it's like there's no time to stop for anything. I'll just keep running.