I’m ending today’s writing at 46,524 words. That’s 166 Word doc pages. Been dancing around my office to get the blood flowing. Been listening repeatedly to Miike Snow, The National, CCR and Black Keys. There’s a good chance I’m going crazy. I left the house for a few hours the other day and came back with a medical marijuana card and a gold nose ring. Despite the insanity, I’ve been loving novel writing. Especially because I fucking love my story. I find myself wanting to live in my story world, that it’s at easy access to my fingertips typing. Writing at this sort of pace everyday keeps the story close at hand. Because it’s already so familiar. The novel is pageants and Reno and Big Life Questions like identity, family, passion. The daily commitment of 2,000 some odd words of writing doesn’t feel cumbersome or tedious–it feels natural, compulsive. And like it’s what I was put on this earth to do.
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:
Welcome to my blog! This moment has been a long time coming. I’ve been fiddling with the idea of writing a blog, I mean really and truly being a blogger, for about a few years now. Two things have kept me from starting:
- Instructional magician video studio audience member.
- Toilet paper promotional model.
- Miniature remote controlled flying helicopter demonstrator.
- Body painting model.
- Nightclub promoter.
- Mexican yogurt sampler at grocery store convention.
- Chewing tobacco promotional model.
- Button hander-outer at insurance sales convention.
- Go-go dancer at National Teacher’s Convention.
- Guitar Hero demonstrator.
- Free novel distributor.
- Movie extra.
- Top Gun pilot convention bartender.
- Godard art gallery bartender.
- Explainer of new policies at oil convention.
- Intel chip demonstrator at technology convention.
- Alpaca fur runway model.
- Showgirl (rhinestone headdress and all).
Things are looking up.
In NaNoWriMo class right now, and this is really the key, this class. I know I would have given up if it weren’t for this class. To have a commitment once a week, people to come in and tell your word count to, and a funny but strict instructor, it’s all a way to stay accountable and get those words in.
Just now, our instructor, Ian Wilson, challenged us that whoever got the most words in the following 20 minutes would win some swag from Sony Studios, where he works. I did 915 words in 20 minutes! Which was much faster than any of my other words have come. He played “Rhinestone Cowboy” while we were writing, and it went perfectly with my story, a Reno story.
Okay, back to writing.
10pm….1,784 words today, 11,030 words total.
Okay, I’ve embraced that writing a novel is really hard. And that inevitable I will feel like everything I write is crap, makes no sense, and is totally unoriginal. And you know what, that’s okay. It’s totally fucking okay. And, I accept that my wrists are killing me from typing so much, and my dirty dishes are getting moldy in the sink, and the dust balls are forming a small army in the corners of the apartment, and Chairman Meow is glaring at me from across the room for not giving him his usual 1,000 pets a day. Because my novel is taking.over.my.life, and I’d rather spend my time with the fictional characters on the page than in reality. And I’m starting to talk to myself. Hehe. Hahahaha. Bah ha ha ha ha.
But how fun is this: I’m working on the character in the story who’s the cause of the central conflict, the mother of the protagonist, and I’ve named her Moonflower and envisioned her as a this kooky, gorgeous gypsy woman, so for “research” I’ve been listening to Stevie Nicks all morning, and watching her old videos, and imagining what it would be like to have a woman like that as your mother….and damn it all to hell if that isn’t a better “work” morning that being in an office. Or promoting bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
I just spent the last five minutes literally banging my head against my desk. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. This is too huge of an undertaking. To write a whole damn novel. Let me tell you, it has NOTHING to do with the time frame of thirty days. It’s the actual writing. To create a whole story that makes sense across hundreds of pages. Novelists are the most genius, strong, enduring of all artists. I don’t think I have what it takes to join their ranks. I know should be keeping my cool and not admitting all this to the world, but I need to vent! Maybe working bacon wrapped hot dog promotions the rest of my life wouldn’t be so bad.
I survived. I did it. 1,701 words. It really only took two hours, much of that time was agonizing, but really–what’s two hours a day for thirty days to write a novel? I miss screenwriting. But I don’t miss bacon wrapped hot dogs. Or mini flying helicopters. Or the other random shitty single-serving jobs I’ve been working lately. Sigh. Tomorrow I will outline. Hopefully that will help with the angst.
…things are starting to get interesting.
Yesterday when I did my writing at Solar Cafe on Cahuenga, I felt the usual “I don’t wanna, this is too hard!” And it IS hard! Especially since I’ve been writing screenplays for the last year, being back at prose feels like slogging uphill through mud on a windy day with 1,000 pounds of stones on my back.
But then, about 600 words in, interesting things started to happen. Suddenly, a receptionist appeared on the page, a receptionist who’s obsessed with soap operas. A boss came to life, named Mr. Chow. I didn’t intend to write about these people when I sat down, and the fact that they appeared out of nowhere, and I then had the power to dictate their fate made me feel like…God. Hehe.
Then I my order of sweet potato fries arrived, and I wasted a good 15 minutes munching away.
About to start today’s writing. Wish me luck.
Only at 655 words. This is dumb. This is too hard. I don’t know who these characters are or what they want. I hate having to make so many decisions. I make decisions all day, now I have to invent a whole world and decide who does what and goes where? Wah wah wah.
No, this is fun. I’ve decided this is fun. I’m trying to write about the protagonist’s mother, a major character and the central source of conflict in the story. This is cool. I get to make up everything about her, her past and her clothes and what she wants and what she’s afraid of. That’s pretty cool. Think I’m going to go eat a Butterfinger.
1,147 words down, 520 to go. I can do it. I can do it. Butterfinger stuck in my teeth. My “colleagues” are all present and accounted for…my cats Chairman Meow and King Alobar and my dog Peter. I just asked them what I should write my last 520 words about. They offered no solutions.
Just shy of reaching my daily 1,667 by a few hundred…but I gotta get to bed. I’m attending a panel at UCLA Extension bright and early tomorrow about the screenwriting industry. Sleep!