I went into November with the best of intentions. Really. I was going to slag my fiction demons, slip my mental self-editor monkey a couple of Roofies and some Nyquil and novel my little heart out. The result would have been 50,000-ish words on baseball. Or perhaps building a wooden sailboat. Or Biblical figures reimagined as profane action heroes. Or something.
But I'm not doing NaNoWriMo. First of all, it's the lame-o name shortening. Really? Does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call itself CenDiConPrev on its sexy yet bacteriological Twitter feed? No, no it doesn't.
But it's not just the name. It's the fact that fiction just doesn't turn me on. I labored for a month to come up with a story idea that would thrill me/chill me/fulfill me and found myself with nothing more to show for my efforts than empty bottles of wine (Damn you, Sonoma County vintners! Damn you all to Hell!) and Word pages littered with total illogic in Times New Roman.
Simply said, I wasn't feeling it. At all. Part of it is wiring. I'm a nonfiction guy. I'm a journalist. I think the human heart in conflict with itself is the most fascinating thing in the world. Next weekend, I'll be going to a counter-protest against the National Socialist Movemen (read: Nazis), which is staging a rally here in KC. You can't expect me to believe that writing werewolves, disaffected "dudes" or whodunit tropes is going to top that.
I also have no patience for the conventions of fiction, in part because few novelists surpass them. I roll my eyes at the obligatory introductory exposition on the protagonist, the inevitable stock characters of pulp and genre fiction, the tiresome and pedantic surrogacy of style and cadence in place of actual "what happened to whom" story that's so common in writers like Franzen. A small, fuck-me-but-they're-talented League of Extraordinary Authors manages to surprise and delight beyond this much-discovered country: Susanna Clarke, Glen Duncan, Michael Chabon, others. But most leave me cold, and so fiction—reading it and writing it—does, too.
Plus, I write books for a living. I write every damned day. A lot. It's work. Pardon me for not getting all flushed and giddy at the prospect of turning out another 50K words when I already have four books to finish by year's end.
So no NaNo for me. Not this year. Bravo to the intrepid Riders of the Purple Prose who are laboring like Beethoven at the keyboard, hurdling story blocks, truculent characters and clichés as stubborn as deeply buried hickory splinters. You kick ass. If you've never finished a book before, I sincerely hope you do. I hope it's a defining moment and you crouch on your haunches and bark Whitman's "barbaric yawp" at the TV or your neighbors. I hope you make it and that it's like sex and crack and chocolate for you.
But I won't be joining you. No regrets.