“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Are we the victim or the master of our limitations?
As NANO draws to a close, I wonder if the month of November in retrospect will be viewed as a boon or a trial. I know hundreds of thousands of us each year, succumb to the lure of the fantasy that we can win, we can finish the “sleeper” novel, the one that will put us on the Times list, the breakout novel of our lives—if we just finish the damn thing.
Isn’t that what NANO is really about? Finishing the damn novel?
It’s true, writing is a struggle and a joy and our life’s dream, but if we tell the truth, most of us would rather ‘have written’ than aspire to be writers.
I do involve myself every year in the NANO frenzy. I always go in with hopes high, expectations realistic, high energy, and a modicum of healthy skepticism. I know I can write every day, or almost every day. I do that in my real life. In spite of keeping a full-time job and a family. And my family is a keeper.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if I suffer from delusions of adequacy?
When does the day come when we accept the mediocrity of the first draft, the need for additional revision and the willingness to let go of the silly thing after the fourth or fifth or even the eleventh revision? When is the novel done? Is it when you know in your heart you simply can’t do any better than this? Or is it when you’re just to exhausted to revise one more time?
Is the novel complete when you choose to abandon it? Or is it done when you file it under the bed? We all know if you do sell it, it’s not done, it will need more revision.
So is this all there is to the writing life?