Novel writing DAY 18…pageants and Reno!

Now that I’m well into week three of this novel writing insanity, I can look back at week two and realize it was ROUGH. I just felt like everything I wrote was a lame regurgitation of other things I’d read, that my ideas were stupid and my prose completely predictable. That all might be the case. But now, in week three, I don’t care. I’ve stopped caring about a lot of things. If this is a waste of time. If I’m “good enough” to think I can write a novel. All that matters now is just doing the writing every day, and saving the judgement for later. Or never.

My novel, as it’s unfolding, is a fictionalized account of my experiences competing in beauty pageants and living in Reno. Pageants and Reno. Two bizarre concepts with hearts of gold. So last Sunday I went to the Miss San Fernando Valley pageant in Canoga Park to refresh my memory. I took my friend Lisa, from Berlin, who wanted to experience such a “typical American event.” There was your usual elements of pageants everywhere: sincere intentions, terrible production value, that one contestant who’s so sweet but so not cut out for a pageant–this one was a girl named Stevie Boner (really), whose talent was Hawaiian dancing, which she started practicing in late October. Awww.

Now I’ve come home to Reno for an early Thanksgiving and to further research/refresh my image of this wacky tacky town. Going out on the town tonight, plan to end up at the casino to “research” the life of a professional gambler. The love interest in my novel is a struggling poker player, taking time in Reno to work on his game before getting back to the circuit.

A few other things that are making me smile:

Here’s an excerpt from an email from the NaNoWriMo people. They send us words of encouragement daily on this month long journey. I thought it would be annoying, but I’ve come to love procrastinating writing my daily 1,667 words by reading them:

You have likely reached the moment in this insane endeavor when you need a rock-solid answer to the question of why, precisely, you are trying to write a novel in a month. You have likely realized that your novel is not very good, at least not yet, and that finishing it will be a hell of a lot less fun than starting it was.

Here’s my answer to the very real existential crisis that grips me midway through everything I’ve ever tried to write: I think stories help us fight the nihilistic urges that constantly threaten to consume us.

At this point, you’ve probably realized that it’s nearly impossible to write a good book in a month. I’ve been at this a while and have yet to write a book in less than three years. All of us harbor secret hopes that a magnificent novel will tumble out of the sky and appear on our screens, but almost universally, writing is hard, slow, and totally unglamorous.

Now go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.

And, for when I’m taking this whole noveling thing too seriously, I just think of Stewie making fun of Brian’s novel on “Family Guy,” and all my worries disappear:


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