I got asked recently to write out how I feel about NANO… I both love and loathe NANO. Let me explain why.
For the love it column… Dude, I get to read new stories. Ones that are raw, new, and good.
Why I loathe it? Because I am masochistic enough to put myself forward to write a novel in November. And that scares the holy bejesus out of me every time I sign up.
NANO for me, is inextricably linked with Keira Marcos and her Rough Trade endeavor. Has been for years. So much of my growth as a writer can be traced back to that woman and her ability to talk me into things. It’s amazing, humbling, scary, and fun.
Not going to lie, though. It is work. You have to understand, you will be writing. Every single day if you can, to make your goal. Fifty thousand words sound like a lot, and it is. It’s a book. It’s an accomplishment. It’s… I can barely figure out how to say this, and I’ve been writing for over a decade now.
Uhm. Look. NANO is… NANO is looking at the highest dive platform at the pool and deciding that, ‘Damn it, I’m going to do it.’
You climb up there, and walk up to the edge and peek over. It’s a long-ass way down. No lie. It’s scary. You wonder if you can actually do it as you think of what you agreed to do. But. You’ve made it up the ladder, right? That’s the second step after putting yourself into the ring.
And… You’re at the edge. It’s not really six billion feet high. You can totally do this! Hell, you’ve done it before. You have the proof that you can write a big ass story and have it make sense on your hard drive. You’ve even plotted. (Cue the hisses & horror!)
But you’re still peeking over the edge. It’s… It’s a long way down. And that water is not soft. Last time you tried this, you belly-flopped, and that hurt like six levels of hell, and you still have the mental bruises. And that story is sitting on your hard drive, waiting on you to finish it.
You spend a little while looking over the edge, contemplating things. I mean. Do you really want to do this? Is your idea enough? Will you get the right number of words out? Will you choke in the middle? Will this one die on the vine too?
The idea you’ve thought of, the story kernel you’ve been nursing for months, is trying to grow in your brain. It’s sending out little roots, tying to finds the sun, and invading your dreams. If you go back down the ladder, it’ll die in the dark, all unborn. You don’t want that, do you?
While you are contemplating shit, you get a surprise. Your best friend, the one you’ve been talking to about your idea, has sent you art. She’s an enabler of the first order and is totally willing to lead you along the garden path by sending you pretty pictures that match the spirit of your story and make those roots shoot out even further. Damn it.
Looks like you are doing this thing.
You get right at the edge of the platform. Down below is a completed NANO and all its glory. Up here, you’re getting ready. You’ve opened your word document, and your fingers are poised to write the first word on your NANO story.
There’s just enough time now for a final, deep breath before you launch yourself into space. You’re not trying for the twists and turns that some people do. No, you just want a simple dive. By the time you hit that water, you want to be head down, arms outstretched, and fingers pointed, so you cut the plane without a splash. Fifty thousand words. That’s the goal.
Because this year, you’re going to make it. Fuck self-doubt. Fuck fear and the terror of people seeing your rough draft. You’re posting your NANO on Rough Trade, and you can do this. You can hit your goal.
And when you feel the water on your face, and you know you’ve hit your word count? OMG. The feeling is everything you’ve wanted. Thirty days to write 50K? It sounded as impossible as diving off the highest platform at the pool for a kid who is scared shitless of heights. But it can be done. And when you do it? Winning is the sweetest feeling ever.
P.S. I may have just talked myself into writing NANO during Rough Trade this year. Seriously. What the ever-living fuck? I hate heights!