The instructions were pretty simple: Write 50,000 words in 30 days. It did not matter what type of novel you wanted to produce, young adult, dystopian, literary fiction, just write it and make sure you finish by November 30. This, in a nutshell, is NaNoWriMo.
I signed up, loving the simplicity of all. I have always fancied myself writing a book and NaNoWriMo inspired me to get off my butt, stop fantasizing, and just start writing it. Many a writer pooh-pooh on the idea of NaNoWriMo, saying it does not produce writers, only monkeys with typewriters. Some of them also say that it destroys creativity as the writers who scurry to reach the word count end up sacrificing quality for quantity. They note that creating a literary piece is a process that takes time and should be done so in a loving manner. Finally, there is statistics. Only a very small percentage of books created by NaNoWriMo participants get published.
The last one is a very strong argument not to do NaNoWriMo but when November 1 rolled around, I was one of the hundreds of people worldwide abusing their writing material of choice. For me, it was my generic laptop I bought for Php 12,000 with the missing number 3 key. I wrote a story that hit close to home since I really did not have time to research. I got in 10,000 words before Week 1 was over. Then came the second week doldrums; aside from running out of ideas on how my main character was going to face her ordeals, I had my share of problems on the home front. Nearly everyone I know got sick. Mama had tummy problems, Yeoshie had a cold, and Aaron was admitted in the hospital for dengue fever. I also had grad school classes to attend (or be absent from, if I am to be completely honest). I tried to write in the hospital but by the third paragraph, I went from Florence Nightingale to Sisa. I just could not do it. So I chucked my laptop and just accepted that I was going to be Aaron’s nurse for the following days.
Thankfully, I pulled through in weeks 3 and 4 and finished my novel five days before the deadline. I guess it was also good that I was in between jobs while I was doing NaNo otherwise I would have abandoned it on the third day. I loved seeing the progression on my word count and every time I added a few more hundred, I felt even more inspired to plow through my draft. And you know what? I loved being a monkey with a typewriter. I loved banging away at my computer and getting closer and closer to the purple bar. Granted that my piece is nowhere close to being nominated for a Palanca award but it is the product of my own hands, my own mind, and to some extent, my own life experiences. I may probably cringe a lot when I finally sit down to proofread it but I am still proud of my handiwork. It made me realize that a rich vocabulary does not a writer make, that you have to have the commitment to write a lot of words every single day, and that you cannot wait for the “muse” to visit you. Writing is a lot of work and I have a new-found respect for writers, even those who get a bad rap for producing crappy books (I will not name names!)
My “novel” may never leave the confines of my hard disk, but it is my novel and I am proud of it because it re-instilled in me the belief that I am still capable of accomplishing things, not just starting them.
I have written a book. Whether or not it gets published is another thing, but I have written a book. And if I am to follow Marti and the Talmud, all I have to do is plant a tree and that will be immortality times three.