On Self-Loathing and Moving Forward

NaNoWriMo, Writing

“A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” – Junot Díaz

The above quote was posted by one of my classmates, in a thread titled “Fuck this shit.” The thread was started by Suzy Vitello, who’s leading the class, with the intention of getting us all to put forth our reasons for quitting doing the thing we all love, and descending into a pit of despair and self-loathing.

Turns out pretty much every writer has their own way, and their own reasons for saying fuck this shit. Most of ‘em boil down to “I suck!”, and the fact that writing is hard. Like, really hard. Jobs and Facebook and other shiny distractions all play their part, but ultimately it’s the loss of confidence in the face of the realisation that writing a novel is a long and boring and complicated process, so, really, why bother?

Luckily, Suzy—author and “den-mother to Portland’s hottest writing group”—is here to help us all unfuck this shit. Ahead of National Novel Writing Month, which starts next week, she’s put together a class called Pre-NaNo Boot Camp, and its purpose is to prep us all for the mammoth task of trying to complete a first draft of 60,000 words in thirty days.

Without giving too much away (sorry, you should’ve signed up for the class) what we’re getting is a veritable smorgasbord of tips, tricks and techniques, designed to maintain the momentum once that initial excitement has worn off, and the job of just putting down words has begun. We’re learning how to create a “line of flight”; what the hell blackout lines are; and why you should plot instead of “pants”—even though that last one might be against the rules of NaNoWriMo… Either way, it’s bloody great. Suzy’s lectures are insightful, entertaining, and ridden with expletives, and as a bonus we’re also getting Gordon Lish, Tom Spanbauer, Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain, Averil Dean and Junot Díaz, because those guys know their shit, and Suzy knows that they know it.

Right now, the excitement levels are high. The impetus is there. I’m sure the time of “no hope” will come, but when it does, I’ll be prepared, and I’ll know exactly what to do…

Follow my progress throughout NaNoWriMo here.