Okay, truth be told, it hasn't been that bad. Three days into my novel and I'm just a hair ahead of the quota. Praises be.
The first night, though--that was brutal. Never mind shutting up the Internal Editor; I'm one on the outside, too. Says so right on my business cards. I sweated and grimaced and agonized, consuming a slice of toast per written page, smacking myself over how maybe, genius, I could try sticking to A SINGLE POINT OF VIEW in some 1500 measly fucking words? I poked at all the holes in my chosen Noveling Sweatshirt, making them bigger. (Does the fact that the cuffs have devolved into vague ruffles count as one hole per, or...?)
I've mentioned that, as a teenager, I was a figure skater. Not a good one, nothing you'd ever see on your television...but I could swoop and spin and do dinky single-rotation jumps; I had wee lycra skirts and a handful of ribbons and medals. A couple years ago, some friends were taking their kids to the rink; they enlisted me as the ringer. Sure, I said. I figured I could tow the little guys around, give meaningful tips to the adults over my shoulder. Muscle memory! Easy peasy!
Nobody tells you--that shit has a statute of limitations. It had been a good ten years since I'd put on skates; the utter failure of my body, my timorous ankles, to respond with anything resembling balance and confidence, was an appalling revelation. I teetered around the rink, but only just...excruciatingly aware of the imminent shattering of my thirtysomething bones on the cold, cold, hard, hard ice. Goddamn little kids darting in and out like maniacs, were they trying to kill people? "Humbling" does not quite begin to suffice.
So. The first couple hours of NaNo were like that. It's likewise been eons since I've made any attempt at fiction. Despite the fact that sitting down at the keyboard and saying "Okay, GO!" is the whole premise of NaNoWriMo, despite the fact that a board of adults had once seen fit to grant me a Master's degree in making up shit, I gutted out the first couple hours in a pure flopsweat, full of more terror and self-loathing than I've even admitted to myself in a long while.
But the second night...man. I wish I could describe it, but maybe anyone who practices a creative art knows the feeling--where suddenly your brain switches on and hands you the next line, and the next, and the next. Put that in! Yeah! This part too! Then this thing! Yeah! What I'd assumed was a secondary character stepped into Chapter 2, literally set out coffee and shortbread, and just pulled the sentences out of me on a spool. I was in the zone. I'd forgotten there was a zone.
Of course I go to bed each night convinced that The Zone is finite--that every day brings me closer to my allotment of creative ability. I close the file and am certain to my soul that I will never, never find that place again. Every story, every sentence, is just a lucky fluke, and any day now I'm bound to run out.
I'm trying to have faith, though. Faith in the invisible bridge between me and the end of the project, stepping out like Indiana Jones and That Cup of Jesus's, waiting for each stone to manifest beneath my feet.
More words tomorrow, then. IF THERE ARE ANY LEFT, DEAR GOD.