There shall be pork in the treetops at dawn!

October 20, 2006 at 10:20 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

book & candle

One thing that I’ve always said that I will never be able to do is write a novel. It’s beyond me. Well, it’s so far beyond me that it’s apparently right behind me. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and son of a bitch if I’m not going to participate this year.

What?! What am I doing?! Don’t I have a small baby? Don’t I have a solo show to finish writing? Don’t I have a business that I want to get off the ground? Aren’t I in the middle of trying to lose almost a third of my body weight?

I know! I don’t know! I do! Yes! Yes, I do! I am!

So, the thing with NaNoWriMo – if you’re not familiar with it – is this: you start writing a novel on November 1st. You can’t start early, although you can start late. You write a 50,000 word novel. It doesn’t have to be a good novel. It just has to have 50,000 words in it. You have to finish it by midnight on November 30th. And the payoff is…you can say that you did.

I’m gonna do this thing. You know why? Because I think that writing a novel really fast will work in a weirdly great symbiotic way with the other things I’m working on. I imagine it like this:

If I can write a 50,000 word novel, I can lose fifty pounds!

If I can write a 50,000 word novel, I can write a little solo show!

If I can write a 50,000 word novel in a month, I can write some marriage ceremonies and get a website and business up and running!

I think all these things can work symbiotically together. If I can lose fifty pounds, I can do a solo show. If I can do a solo show, I can lose fifty pounds. If I can do a solo show, write a novel and lose fifty pounds, I can start a business. If I can do a solo show, write a novel, lose fifty pounds and start a business, I may get the idea that there are a lot of things I can do.

It’s funny. I have this strange sense that I’m on the verge of some kind of personal renaissance. For most of my adult life, the number 40 – referring to the age – has hung boldfaced in my mind. Like it’s my target age. I’ve just had this subtle sense that I was going to sort of kick ass at 40. Now, I’m not 40 yet. I’m 37. But I have nearly three years in between now and 40 and a lot can happen in three years. And I can feel myself loosening my grip on some old ideas about myself.

One old self-image snapshot floating around in the billfold of my mind is of a young woman, maybe in her 20’s. She’s thin from lots of smoking, but not fit – a weakling. Her hands shake. She’s unassertive, doesn’t finish things because she doubts she was good enough ever to start them. She’s kind of incompetent, maybe. Or she believes so much in her incompetence that she’s frozen, and then she’s got a self-fulfilling prophecy on her hands. She’s soft, in a sad way.

Another more recent snapshot, though becoming outdated, is of a slightly older woman, in her early/mid-thirties. She’s plump, grounded, has sort of a mask of contentment on. She doesn’t start things, because she knows she won’t finish them, so then she is spared the disappointment. This passes for wisdom! She feels wise. Don’t try. Give up first! Then you can’t fail! Safe as houses. No smoky, no shaky. Solid as a rock. She’s more responsible than she was in her 20’s, doesn’t let other people down like she did back then. Except for herself, but who asked about that? Her extra fifty pounds is her route to personal power. If you take up physical space, then you don’t have to take up space in other ways. Let others shine! They deserve it! Me, I’m just a fat and happy housecat. I’m not interested in all that shining. This woman is soft in an increasingly unsad way, last point aside.

A novel has always been such an impossibility in my mind. I’ve always thought that novelists are honest-to-god magicians. I know how to tell my own stories, but the creation of character and plot and massive amounts of detail from thin air is jaw-dropping to me. I’ve said it over and over again that I could never do it, that I don’t have the gene. If I can blast through that, then I’m banking on the idea that my psyche will question the other things I may secretly have pegged as impossibilities.

This is the snapshot I want in my wallet:

I’m forty. I’m slender and energetic. I haven’t abandoned my hold on contentment, but I’m not so exclusive with it anymore. I like a little creative discontent, a little fire under my ass. If there’s something I want to try, I try it. If there’s something I want to say, I say it. If I do or say it badly, well, whoops. I’m surrounded by responsibility to family, babies, husband, friends. I’m anchored by responsibility to my own talent and dreams. Fufilling one helps me fulfill the other. I’m kind to my hopes so I have no reason to be unkind to others. This is a fine kind of softness.

I have an actual idea for this NaNoWriMo project. I have a concept. I have the two main characters. I have a situation. You’re allowed to outline your story beforehand, you just can’t write any actual text before November 1st. I’m kind of thrilled about getting started here. I’m champing at the bit a little.

So I’m going to write this novella and think of it as a spark near the dry kindling lying around my psyche. Come on, little fire. Let’s spread and get big.

Bloom Status: Upward, upward! Like flying pigs!


  1. Dup said,

    Is “There shall be pork in the treetops at dawn”, your opening sentence? If so it’s brilliant.

  2. Eve said,

    My WORD!!!! I am so impressed and proud of you,and awe is absolutely squirting out of my eyeballs! Look at you GO!
    I hope a spark from your fire can fly over and light something up over here too…

  3. adrien-alice said,

    so your long-lost fans clammor to know: how are you? how goes it? can you feel our will and good wishes, helping you through the stubborn chapters, the characters who aren’t doing what they ought, the beloved son who just *has* to be fed?

    I can’t wait for the report, come December.

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