Monday, November 25, 2013

On NaNoWriMo and Self-Hatred

The idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel WritingMonth) appeals to me and everyone knows it. When November rolls around, I always have a few friends asking me if I’ll be participating this year and the answer is always an emphatic, “maybe!”

I join groups and make posts on Facebook, I update my NaNo profile on the official site so that my most glamorous photo is available, I even spent some time this year collaborating with coworkers on our NaNo Game Plans before the end of October. Hell, this year I even had a plot.

So, what did I do come November First? Did I settle down at my desk with a hot cup of coffee and type away well into the night (see doesn’t that sounds appealing)?

No. I completely gave up on day one.

This has been my course of action for the last five years. I have never actually participated in NaNoWriMo despite annually working myself into a frenzy about it at the end of October.

And you know what? I didn’t even feel bad about it until now, the 25th of November. November is almost over and all I have to show for it is a haircut.

Every year around this time of the month, I ask myself, “What is wrong with me?” If the concept appeals to me enough to get me excited and then upset me when it falls through, why don’t I at least try? Writing has always been my only decent creative output and I want this. I want to have written a novel. I want to be completely and utterly absorbed in writing. I want to be creating. I want this novel to be done. I want to share this story. But, I just can’t do NaNo.

For a while, I thought that it was because I exhibit poor self-control. Maybe if I set a more rigid schedule for myself I could at least start a project.

But then, the part of my brain that is desperately attempting to keep me from falling into a depressive abyss says, “Perhaps, my love,  by depriving yourself of something you want so completely, you are exhibiting the most self-control of them all!!!” (see how excitable my inner-monologue is?) And I say to myself, “Yes! You’re right!!! Look at me, washing clothes and writing instructions for software! Please see how clean my apartment is. Please note the perfection of my mascara. Did you know that I watched almost twenty movies this month? Twenty. Isn’t that something?”

Though I try to tell myself that my pursuits are admirable and mean something, I just can’t convince myself that they are more substantial than a novel. A novel, written and edited and “done,” is so emblematic in my mind of so many strange things that I want and need. I know, I know, I know I need this.

So the real reason I can’t and won’t participate in NaNoWriMo is because I’m afraid. I don’t trust myself enough to abandon so many safe, inconsequential things in my life that have become regularities. I don’t like myself enough to believe that anything I write in thirty days is worth not vacuuming as often or walking aimlessly through Target for two hours. This is not an issue of self-control - it is an issue of self-worth.

I am sure this problem manifests itself elsewhere in my life, but NaNoWriMo has become a glaring and clear-cut example. I rarely let myself indulge in things like this, usually under the guise of me saying, “Oh that’s gimmicky,” and moving on, but secretly, I want to see myself as important enough to dedicate a month to my creative process. It’s just so damn hard.

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