Then this post won’t make much sense to you.
You’d need to know that (a) Monkeytraps’ author is a therapist named Steve who specializes in control issues, and that (b) its coauthor is Steve’s hopelessly control-addicted inner monkey, named Bert.
That’s Bert above, post-bite.
I had to write this. I need to vent.
I’m so pissed.
At what? At that moron.
Do you know what the moron plans to do on November 1st?
He’s going to start writing a novel.
A 50,000-word novel.
Fifty thousand words.
And he plans to finish it in thirty days.
He’s been considering this for years, ever since he heard about this NaNoWriMo nonsense. But each year I’ve been able to talk him out of it.
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s this weird project where people commit to, well, writing a novel in a month.
Even if they’ve never written a novel before. Even if they’ve no clue what they’re doing. Especially if they’re clueless.
It’s the brainchild of a writer named Chris Baty (thanks a load, Chris), who created it in 1999 and later wrote a book about it titled No Plot? No Problem.
Baty’s got some strange ideas. One is that
Literature is not merely a spectator sport… Fiction writing can be a blast when you set aside debilitating notions of perfection and just dive headlong into the creative process.
Another is that
The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.
So he created this organization and set up this website where people go and sign up (god help me, Steve registered last night) and get tips about writing and support each other in forums and all that communal crap.
Damned stupid idea, if you ask me.
Hey, I’m already busy. I can barely keep up with the shit Steve makes me do now.
The practice. The blog. The slideshow series he’s developing. The book about control he’s been wanting to write.
And then there’s the house (falling apart) and the lawns (full of leaves and pine needles) and the cars (both on death’s doorstep).
What’s worse — now get this — Steve’s daughter is about to have a baby.
Due on Election Day. I mean, I’m happy about that and all (though being called Grandpa is a bit unnerving.)
But it’s got to complicate my life further, right? Having a grandchild will change my life in ways I can’t even imagine now.
But let’s face it. The real problem here is,
I’m a control addict.
Doesn’t he know how much pressure this puts on me?
How many things this forces me to not control?
Like the time and energy this will cost me.
Or how the family feels about my being MIA.
Or what readers think of what I write. (I don’t have to show it to anyone, Steve says. Like that ever stopped me from worrying before.)
Or whether I can even write at all. What if I get blocked?
Or my mental state. (I’m already obsessing about how to start the damned story.)
Or my physical condition. (I get tired just thinking about it.)
Or my emotional health. (What if I get depressed?)
This whole idea scares me shitless.
I feel like he’s just taken a enormous bite out of my peace of mind.
The moron’s made up his mind.
What’s can I do?
Do my best. Let go of the rest.
Go with the flow.
Like he always tells me (and everyone else) to do.
* * *
The creative process must be explored not as the product of sickness, but as representing the highest degree of emotional health, as the expression of normal people in the act of actualizing themselves.
~ Rollo May
Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. It is life at its most free.
~ Annie Dillard
New organs of perception come into being as a result of necessity.
Therefore, O man, increase your necessity, so that you may increase your perception.
As an improvising musician, I am not in the music business, I am not in the creativity business; I am in the surrender business.
To the extent that we feel sure of what will happen, we lock in the future and insulate ourselves against those essential surprises. Surrender means cultivating a comfortable attitude toward not-knowing.
~ Stephen Nachmanovich
* * *
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.
In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
~ From About NaNoWriMo.