Greetings unto you all, skinbeasts! Greetings, good day, as-salam alaykom, shalom and howdy do. Yes, it is I, Comrade Buckminster, and I will be annexing the blog today on account of I’m too hopped up on nip to be responsible for my actions. Where’s Benny, you ask? She’s busy, I reply. Doing what, you ask? Sorry, I reply, I have been sworn to secrecy and could never betray her confidence.
(I mean, if you asked me a bunch of times, I might volunteer a tiny bit of information. I might remark, for example, that Benny’s employer, Her Majesty the Queen, has decided to replicate the croquet scene from Alice in Wonderland, using lawyers instead of playing cards as the hoops. Have I mentioned that Benny, whilst somewhat squishy in the middle, can still hold a hoop form better than most of Her Majesty’s indentured servants? I shall leave you to draw the necessary inferences.)
So! The summer is over, thanks be to Crom. Gone are the days of sweltering agony, when we could do nothing but drape ourselves over bits of furniture like soggy towels and think of freezing cold things. Glaciers. Icebergs. Stephen Harper’s blackened heart. Now we can immerse ourselves in plaid flannel shirts and hot cider and pumpkin pie and who knows, maybe we’ll get a whole four days of autumn before Canada ices over from coast to coast (except for Vancouver, you lucky bastards) and stays that way until next June.
If any Americans are reading this, I suppose some of you may still be clenched in summer’s evil grip. My deepest condolences. I’d offer to help, but there’s another mission of mercy occupying me at the moment. See, you may not have noticed, American friends, but there’s a horrible thing stalking your nation, and I have sworn a sacred oath to find it and bat it around for a while and then rend it into itty bitty little pieces. You may thank me later.
Anywaysies. (Was that a graceful transition or was it not? Verily I am a ninja of the transition. Fifty points to Buckminster. What the Hufflepuff am I saying? Sorry, this batch may a leetle bit more potent than what I’m used to.)
Anywaysies, with summer at an end, the withered little bit of your brain that remembers your adolescence has come to life, pulsing BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO SCHOOL. This can manifest in many ways. You may experience an uncontrollable urge to buy a stack of new notebooks and pens (go for it, sez I). You may hallucinate the smells of old gym socks and chalk dust and moldering sandwiches. Or your hind brain may convulse with panic as it relives the era of deadlines and due dates, and- with the autumn weather reminding us that 2015 is almost over my sweet and fluffy lord when did THAT happen- you may decide that it is time to Accomplish Things. All The Things. Now!
That, I’m betting, is why Nanowrimo takes place in November: to take advantage of the world’s collective fit of panic at the approaching winter. Ten thousand years ago, your ancestors prepared for the snows by killing a giant prehistoric moosebeast and dragging it back to their caves. These days, assuming you don’t want to go and massacre wildlife, finishing off a novel can give you a similar kind of thrill. You can strike a heroic pose over the manuscript, much as a hunter would over the carcass of a fifteen-foot alligator he strangled to death. Me did that!
Confession time, though: I’m not a big fan of Nanowrimo. It can be useful to force yourself to write even when you’re churning out nothing but llama excrement. It can be. But it can also be draining and frustrating, grinding out verbiage by the tonne that you don’t much like. It can play merry hell with your ability to judge whether an idea is bad or good. It can bring on a fit of self-doubt and send you rolling under the table in fits of tears. Even if you use Nanowrimo only to prepare a first draft, the editing process may be (if you’ll forgive me) a stone-balled bitch.
I once wrote a novel in about six weeks. It was a lot like purgatory, with more cups of tea. I raced back home after work every day to bend over my computer like a myopic bushbaby, and survived entirely off of tofu sandwiches, potato chips, and peppermint candy. When I finished the thing, it was a Frankenstein mess of rushed scenes and dangling plotlines and characters whose eyes were constantly changing colour because I kept forgetting what colour I’d made them in the first place. I loathed it so entirely that I kicked it around the entire apartment. Years later, when I started trying to reassemble the thing into something half-decent, I could only read a couple of pages at a time before I had to kick it around the entire apartment again.
Your mileage may vary. But I think that the back to school time of year, despite the haze of deadlines and crush of work, is still a time to take a breath and adjust direction. It’s a time to think about what we want to do next. And as for me? I think I shall spend Nanowrimo reading an enormous pile of other people’s books.