NaNoWriMo 2010, Day 6, Word Count: 10,294
Word Count, Day 1: 1,922
NaNoWriMo 2009 didn’t quite work out — I lost my way after 50 pages. It was nevertheless an interesting experience, so here I am, ready for 2010. The difference is a tweak of the attitude: I didn’t believe enough in just writing and getting the words out. I am full of words, but real life means real editing — all the time. So this year, I am trying really hard to just write, knowing that it really is about the quantity, not quality, and that just “showing up” everyday and getting the 1,600 words out there is the practice. How else do you begin to write? Of course, it helps that what I am writing this month is in a style most familiar to me — that of the standard three-volume nineteenth century novel. I have no incentive to be economical with words 🙂
Isn’t it absurd how much people are willing to pay for someone else to make coffee for them? Guilty, guilty, guilty … especially now, but it’s because coffee shops can be really interesting places.
Overheard today: “You know, people think that when someone is murdered, he is gone. Just gone. But he isn’t really, because he’s still around, just somewhere else. And if you think he is really gone, then he continues to be a victim.”
As I listened semi-surreptitiously to this earnest, middle-aged woman, I wondered what her friend thought of this idea of bodily — or is it soul? — displacement, but then I realized that this was not a conversation, it was a monologue, and that perhaps that friend was actually somewhere else. I had my opening sentence for Chapter 3, and it would be of a woman talking to her friend without the friend knowing it.
Writing longhand has its uses: more time to think before putting thoughts down, less inclination to edit, and it’s aesthetically pleasing. When the ideas come, I start writing before the inner voice starts telling me that the ideas are stupid. Which they may very well be, but by then I’m no longer inclined to go back. As an aid to the “no plot, no problem” approach, a good notebook (of the sort that discourages page-tearing) is essential. My favorite is from a Japanese company:
I have been hoarding these notebooks for several years now — and this is clearly the moment. The pages are smooth and substantial enough not to have show-through, and because the pages are 7″ x 10″ (and there are only 34 sheets), I can think I’m making measurable progress. Inspiration apparently comes in many different forms …
The Kid is learning to write, which is of course a good thing — even if the topics are hokey and her choices are even hokier: on the topic of “A Special Place,” she chose “Home is a Special Place.” The current assignment? Write an essay on “Someone Who Inspires You” (and not incidentally, tie it to MLK). I happen to think this a silly assignment for the average 7th grader, because the average 7th grader can’t think outside the Inspirational Person = Famous Person equation. For them — and I suspect for many people who ought to know better — “inspirational person” implies the extraordinary and the heroic, and while we need the big dreams and the big achievements, those should not be all that we celebrate. I think the assignment artificial, directional, and dictatorial for what it expects of the kids. My daughter is writing about Wilma Rudolph (again) because: 1) she knows something of her from a biographical report she had to do in 6th grade; 2) she thinks an inspiring person is/should be someone other people have heard of; and 3) she has no clue what “inspirational” actually means and moreover, has no desire to actually think about the concept. I am pretty sure that whatever The Kid chooses to write about Wilma Rudolph, hers is not a life that has ever affected my daughter in any meaningful way. So The Kid will produce an essay that reproduces the facts of Wilma Rudolph’s life that other people have found inspirational, and these facts will be, for her, as ephemeral as most things are at her age. As for the tie-in to Martin Luther King, Jr. — well, let’s just say that I don’t believe she has a good working understanding of civil rights. Aside from that difficulty, I am also against the hagiographic view of MLK taught in middle school — yes, I know that after all she’s only in 7th grade and how much understanding of the nuances of a lived life can a 7th grader have? Which, of course, is my point.