This year’s NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. In a way, it feels very strange not to have taken part. There are parts of it – the frenzy, the camaraderie, the working toward a goal – that I missed as I watched from the sidelines this year.
But the actual writing? Not so much.
I’ve been writing for almost as long as I’ve been reading. I kept writing even during the years that I wasn’t reading. Some of it was blogging and terrible poetry, but most of it was fiction. I’ve never had any serious thoughts of becoming a published author, but when I first stumbled upon NaNoWriMo, I fell in love with the idea of writing a novel… even if it was just for me.
But I discovered over the years that it’s not the writing that’s the hard part. Not to say it doesn’t have its own challenges, especially trying to fit it around the rest of your life. But when you give yourself permission to suck – an aspect of NaNoWriMo I took to quite quickly – the writing itself is relatively easy. Turning it into something worth reading, that’s the tricky part. And whether or not I was just writing for myself, I still wanted to make it worth reading, something I could be proud of.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo five times. I walked away with five completed drafts. Not one of them ever made it any further than that.
And at some point over the last year, I just sort of realized… I don’t care anymore. Fiction isn’t where my heart lies. I don’t care about churning out the words if I’m not going to do anything with them, and I think I’ve finally realized that I’m never going to do anything with them. And I’m strangely okay with that.
It doesn’t feel so much like giving up on a goal as realizing I didn’t care about the goal as much as I thought I did. If I wanted to put myself out there and really make a go at publishing a book, it would be different. But I don’t. This was only ever for me anyway.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing completely. But I put far more of myself into my blog than I ever put into my fiction, and it feels natural in a way that all that other writing never did.
Five years from now I might feel differently, but for now, I’ll stick to reading about other worlds and other lives… and writing about my own.
Are you an aspiring writer?