This is the first autumn in a lot of autumns that I haven’t been in graduate school — the last one was way back in 2006, to be precise! And before that, I was in undergrad every fall from 1998 through 2004. So … yeah. I’m totally psyched by the fact that I don’t have papers due and midterms (to complete or to grade). Obviously I have professional shit to get done, but not having academic coursework in addition to my full-time job means that much more space to breathe and remind myself what I like to do for fun and giggles.
One of those things is fiction writing, which quite honestly I haven’t done since I was an angsty teenager and I spent lots of time cranking out formulaic fantasy novels (retelling classic fairy tales was a favorite pastime … I have at least three different versions of Beauty and the Beast floating around my parents’ attic in rapidly-degrading composition books). In my twenties I mostly did non-fiction, academic writing — which is a particular type of pleasure and one I don’t ever want to give up entirely. But between school and blogging, I didn’t have a lot of time or brain power to generate fiction.
Which is why, as a treat to myself, I’ll be participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a world-wide participatory project in which folks spend the month of November scrabbling to produce 50,000 words of fiction. Many people are attempting a novel-length story (50k comes out to roughly 175 pages of typed something), but all that matters really is word count. NaNo is all about the first draft, all about simply barreling passed the writer’s block and the “I’m not good enough” thoughts and creating. You can be as social about it as you want: never show it to another soul, or join your regional NaNo writing group for write-a-thon events. Even if you don’t get to the 50k goal by the end of November, you can still include your final word count to the overall stat pool and feel proud for having contributed to this giant burst of generative artistic energy.
To me, that’s the point: not about creating something “good” or “literary” but being brave enough to create in the first place. I actually really like having some portion of my generative energy that’s not directed toward something I wish to Mean Something or Change Minds — but instead, you know, to be a little bit of porny goodness to give my friends a smile. We’re not trying to publish our work or build literary careers, so it’s all about playfulness and goodwill — two things I think the world can never have too much of.
What about you, Harpies? Do any of you participate in NanoWriMo? Do you have other creative activities that you set aside time for in your lives that are for pure pleasure? Share away in comments!