It’s Halloween. Children dress up and beg for candy. Parents snap photos like mad, posting to various social media sites. Costume parties belch odd beings onto the streets and into local pubs. It’s a strange and magical night.
And, for me, it’s somewhat terrifying. My fears stem, not from the ancient holiday itself with all its witches and ghosts and Old World implications, but from the fact that tonight is also NaNoWriMo Eve.
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is a yearly event where hopeful, somewhat insane would-be novelists pledge to write 50,000 words — roughly the length of a short novel — during the month of November. I’ve paid it little attention over the years. I mean, I don’t even have time for my poetry, so the idea of writing a whole novel is ludicrous. Besides, what in the world would I write about? Sure, I have my funny little stories about my hiking adventures, my consulting work, and raising dogs. Facebook-worthy, to be sure, but enough to craft into a novel? Heck no. Novels need plots and characters and conflicts and resolutions. There are rules to follow, styles to master, research to be conducted, back stories to flesh out to make characters real.
So what am I doing signing up for NaNoWriMo 2016 and announcing to friends and family that I’m about to write a novel? Why am I copying invitations to both local and virtual Wrimo meetups and write-ins to my calendar? Why am I reading tips and tricks and planning suggestions — as though I actually thought this endeavor was achievable?
Because this is the Year of Trying Stuff. This is the Year of Daring Feats of Courage and Ridiculous, Death-Defying Antics. This is the Year of Getting Unstuck — or Bust.
None of it has been easy. Some of my attempts have been successful. Some of them have been rife with failure. Even now, the specter of Public Humiliation floats outside my door, grinning its evil grin and waving: “Soon you’ll be mine!” The goblins of my Inner Editors scamper about, sharpening their claws and growling with glee, anticipating shredding my self-confidence and crippling my storytelling. In my kitchen, a couple of gremlins are busy mixing the mortar they’ll use to build a wall of Writers Blocks for me to slam into (which previous participants predict will happen during week 2). It seems as though all my demons are coming out to play.
And that’s what my “starter novel” will be about: grappling with inner demons. Or, rather, one demon who goes from being an “innie” to becoming an “outie.”
I’ve temporarily titled it The Demon Project. The synopsis:
We all have demons. Some of them are just a bit…smellier than others.
When Jaqi is dumped by Adam, she thinks her life is over. She begins a slow spiral into a depression that affects her work, her friendships, and her personal hygiene. Then she wakes up one morning to find a Demon in her bedroom, and no amount of screaming, threatening, or cajoling will make it go away. As the demon settles comfortably into Jaqi’s daily routine (breaking things and generally causing trouble along the way), what at first seems like a nightmare to Jaqi slowly reveals itself to be an opportunity for spiritual growth, weight loss, and — ultimately — forgiveness.
If time permits, I’ll post about my experience here. (I make no promises.) Maybe I’ll even post excerpts. They’ll be the rough, unpolished, ungainly work one might expect of a first draft of a first novel. But, dammit, they’ll be something, which will be better than the nothing I’ve been doing for decades.
Wish Jaqi and me luck. We have a lot of work to do these next 30 days.