So, as you may know (if you’ve been keeping up with my previous posts), just last month, I finished writing a novel. And by finished writing a novel, I mean that I spend a bit under thirty days haphazardly dashing down almost 60 thousand words vaguely forming a plot that could be considered a cohesive piece.
There was many a time where I seriously doubted my own sanity. I mean, what kind of lunatic actually believes that they can write an entire novel in just a month? What demon could have possessed me to do such a beautifully dangerous thing?
There was many a time where I doubted whether or not I could actually do it. There were the terrible nights when the clock furiously declared that it was already 11, and I was over a thousand words behind schedule, but I still had oh-so-important projects I needed to finish. There were days when the words just wouldn’t come out, and I would sit by my laptop – hands poised over the keyboard, ready to type at a moment’s notice – for hours at a time to no avail.
But somewhere along with the sleepless nights and endless cups of coffee – between the incoherent dialogue and writers’ block, hidden amongst the frustrations and the dismay – I realized something: I can write.
I know, what an epiphany, right? How utterly mind blowing. What a life-changing and avant-garde thing of me to say. Of course, I know that most of us can write. This might not come as such a big surprise to you. It might be something that you learned to do in kindergarten – perhaps you may be thinking I’m insulting your intelligence.
Bear with me though.
I can write. I can actually and truly write.
How interesting it is that I can write. How interesting it is that the words that make up the very soul of me can come out onto paper and actually make sense in a way my life never can.
The voices that had been bothering the inner recesses of my mind at the most inopportune moments were finally out and on paper. The witty lines and clever repartee that I had been saving up for months had finally found their places. The frustrations I had been saving up for a rainy day made their way bursting out onto the blank screen. The story that had somehow wormed its way into my heart was finished for anyone to see.
Of course, it was more than just the writing per se. I did feel rather excessive bursts of joy upon reaching certain word goals, but it was also so much more than just simply that.
It’s rather difficult to explain, but I’ll go ahead and try to paint you a picture.
The blank screen stares right at me. The cursor blinks into and out of existence, almost mockingly. I sit there, prepared to let all the voices screaming into my mind out. Almost without a warning, my mind goes near-blank and I begin writing furiously. Do I want to stop? Absolutely. But I do not. I carry on anyway and write and write and write until I am so sick of writing that I want to hurl my laptop out the window. And then I write even more.
It doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? But in that moment, just for a single moment, everything draws into perfect focus. It is a rather strange kind of moment where black is black, white is white, and you know your life is, and always will be, directly between the two. If you asked me in my addled state, I probably could not tell you what my own name was. However, I felt like how I imagine Buddhist monks must feel like in their meditation. I felt Nirvana as I wrote; let me tell you, there is no better feeling than going over your work the next morning and feeling entranced in the writing as though it was not you, but rather some higher being, who had written it for you.
And oh, how addictive it is. Once you have had a taste of that crystal-clear moment of beauty, then anything else pales in comparison. You just want to have it over and over again. I felt like a drug addict who would go to any extremes to get what he wanted. I felt like a hopeless fool, utterly in love with the idea of writing a novel. I felt like countless other metaphors I can’t even think of right now.
There are plenty other metaphors I might use to describe the experience of writing a novel, I must say.
Writing a novel is like skydiving. Absolutely terrifyingly beautiful.
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see right in front of you, and you aren’t completely sure where the road is. But if you take it one little bit at a time, you’ll eventually get somewhere.
This one is by far my favorite though. Writing a novel is like giving birth to a baby. Once it’s born, you will love that baby and think it’s beautiful. But then it’s going to grow up, and you don’t know who that baby is going to hang out with. You don’t know if people will like it or not. In fact, it’s practically assured that some people will not like it one bit. And there is nothing you can do about it, really.
Perhaps that is the best lesson of all from NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t matter if anyone likes your novel (or if anyone reads it at all, actually). What matters is the writing itself, the experience of utter nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing, joyous endorphin-high that comes along with writing a novel.