I stayed up too late Saturday night, of course, then woke up a few hours later than has been my Sunday wont, lately. Rolled out at about 9:30, not in a hurry to check the football games but neither in a hurry to get busy on stuff I wanted done.
I did put on the Dolphins-Broncos game as I lazily mapped my day, and it was surprisingly engaging. I think people expected the Dolphins to win in a blowout, but the early part of the game, which is all I saw, was competitive and decently played. Broncos ended up winning but I was gone by then.
Hunger won out, as always, and I got out the door mostly to get a Subway sandwich on my way to the office. Picked up a second sub to consume later.
I got right to work when I hit the office after first inhaling enough of my delicious turkey sandwich take the edge off. Set a goal to leave in two hours, but I needed an extra half hour to finish updating stuff. Still, only two and a half hours of Sunday office time when my usual is closer to five. I’m mostly quite pleased. I won’t care as much when football season’s over, but that won’t be until February. so bringing that number down habitually would be nice.
Got home a few minutes into the second quarter of the Raiders-Chiefs game. Man, that was a stressful game, and the Chiefs won in the final minute. It would have been a great game if it were any two other teams. Kinda sucked from where I was.
I did a couple of crosswords and read the news, then goofed around on my phone and finally took the nap I was trying to resist, at about 8:00. I wasn’t worried it would keep me up late; I had a feelnig I was going to be up late anyway. Plus, it was only going to be an hour — the NaNo Skype group convenes at nine.
It was a good nap, but not satisfying enough. I reeeeeally wan’t feeling it when I sat down to write at 9:30 (yeah, it’s sometimes a half hour commute from the bedroom to the desk), so I spent half an hour reading some of the NaNoWriMo pep talks.
Beginning many years ago, the NaNoWriMo organizers have sent pep talks via email for NaNo participants, from notable published writers, one per week. I almost never read them, although I remember something Rainbow Rowell wrote in 2013 about a pile of words and how it convinced me to give this craziness another go. Wow, seven years ago.
Nine. I read nine pep talks (they’re archived on the website), including the Rowell. Some takeaways:
From Alexis Daria in 2020. I didn’t know who she was, but her profile photo is rather fetching. She’s a romance novelist.
…stories provide another function I didn’t mention above: Stories can heal. And we are in desperate need of healing right now.
When the writing gets hard, or when it all feels like too much, remember why you write, and that there is value in what you’re doing. Stories matter. Your story matters.
It’s time to write it down.
From Dave Eggers in 2010.
Is procrastination a problem for you? Really? You think you have a problem?
Here’s procrastination: The organizers of NaNoWriMo asked me three months ago to write this pep talk, and I’m only writing it now, after blowing three deadlines, after avoiding 10 reminders. I was asked to write a pep talk for NaNoWriMo, and I’m actually writing it after the month started. So whatever procrastination problems you have, I probably have you beat. I’m the worst, and I’m getting worse every day.
It’s a very strange thing, because we all think writing should be fun. That is, when I was temping through most of my twenties, wondering what it would be like to write for a living, hoping for such a life, I thought it might be pretty sweet. I thought if I ever got to write for a living, I would feel pretty lucky, and that I would be so appreciative that I would bound out of bed every day and, like a goddamned adult, I would write as much as I could every day, and get work done in a reasonable amount of time. Again, like an adult.
Instead, I need, on average, eight hours sitting on my writing couch to get one hour of work done. It’s a pathetic ratio. I stall, avoid, put off and generally act like someone’s making me do some terrible job I never wanted to do. I blow pretty much every deadline I’m given.
Knowing there are thousands of others out there trying to do the same, who are using this ridiculous deadline as cattle-prod and shame deterrent, means goddamnit, you better do it now because you know how to write, and you have fingers, and you have this one life, and during this one life, you should put your words down, and make your voice heard, and then let others hear your voice.
And the only way any of that’s going to happen is if you actually do it. People can’t read the thoughts in your head. They can only read the thoughts you put down, carefully and with great love, on the page. So you have to do it, goddamnit. You have to do it, and you can step back and be happy. You can step back and relax. You can step back and feel something like pride.
Then of course you’ll have to revise it 10 or 20 times, but let’s not talk about that yet.
Write your goddamned book now. The world awaits.
From John Green in 2010.
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. So why finish what you’ve started? Because in two weeks, when you are done, you will be grateful for the experience. Also, you will have learned a lot about writing and humanness and the inestimable value of tilting at windmills.
So here’s the pep part of my pep talk: Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.
Best wishes, John Green
That’s a lot of positive energy. There’s more, but I think I’ll share it in pieces. Anyway, I avoid these kinds of pep talks because there’s a class of writers who spends more time reading about writing and talking about writing than it does actually writing, and I decided twenty years or so ago that I don’t want to be in this class. The thing that makes you a better writer is writing. Talking about writing, or (worse) passing along writing quotes you see on Tumblr, or retweeting writing advice you see on Twitter: these are not writing. They make you an expert at talking about writing but they don’t make you a writer.
I’ve been feeling a little down, not to mentioned drained and unmotivated. The nine pep talks I looked at Sunday evening before getting started really helped.
It took a while, and I had to keep working even when the other Skype participants signed off, but I hit 2389 words, taking me past the 40K mark. Now it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’ll finish November with 50K words. My challenge now is to wrap the story up, as crude a wrapup as it is certain to be, so this ugly pile of decent ideas has a beginning, middle, and end.
Then, although it was nearly one in the morning, I did some work-work. Stuff I hoped to have done before the weekend was up. Stuff people were waiting on. I got good work done and sent emails out at 4:00, and finally crashed into bed at close to 5:00.
Breakfast was the turkey sandwich. A very late lunch was a chicken sandwich. A very, very late dinner was cold pork and beans, not right from the can this time — I poured them into a bowl and dumped room-temperature Vienna sausage on it. Yum.
Not much texting. Ali and I sorta got into it over some COVID -19 issues I don’t really want to drag up. It was not one of those times when we communicate well. Bleah. Sylvia and I chatted a little about exercise and the unfair shortness of the weekend.
I think it was a good weekend but dang. I need more weekend. I need more sleep. I need more time to do work. I need more time for decluttering. I need more time to watch DVDs. I need more time (and better water conditions) to swim. I need more time to vegetate.
I have good connection with friends and coworkers. That’s a big plus for me. If you want in because you aren’t connecting enough, leave a comment. It’s keeping me sane. You might need some of that.