I’m absolutely knackered today—and I’m about to walk myself right into a sugar coma because we have two birthdays in the house this November—so here’s just a short note for all those still typing our way into the sunset on November 30th.
So you’ve spent the past twenty six or so days working on a novel. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t (always) fun, but it’s done, and you can’t go back and undo it, no matter what you do.
You’ve spent all those hours and all those days and all those weeks working on your prose, proving to yourself that you can do it, possibly realizing that it’s harder than you thought it would be, but still manageable, and now you’ve got about four days left.
The question is simple—why not give up now? Why not give yourself a well-deserved break and come back to writing when November ends? Since you now know you’ve got this—why not end the suffering? Why, indeed, not let yourself rest this week, pick up the sorry ruins of your life before NaNo, and resume writing your novel when you feel like a whole person again?
The answer, one of the ‘core’ answers I hope we’ve reached the general vicinity of during this November, is that, when all is said and done, the one little detail remains, a detal which is, all by its lonesome self, enough for you to make it through this week, to make it to Nov 30th, to leave the sleeping and the recuperation for December.
The detail, which you might’ve noticed during the past twenty plus days because you’ve spent so much time on it, is your goddamn novel.
If you quit now, you don’t just quit on yourself; you quit on your novel, too. If you take an (indeterminable) break, there’s no guarantee you’ll come back to the novel altogether. (Don’t ask me how I know.) If you leave the final confrontation to be written sometime next year, who’s to say you’ll even remember what you wanted the points of greatest impact to be? If you abandon your characters to hang on the verge of getting together, how can you be sure they won’t spend an eternity apart?
And if you don’t do this—if you don’t finish your novel this November—there is no one else who can do it for you, not in the whole wide world. Nobody else could take the storyline(s) to a well-deserved end the way you can. No one else can untangle the interpersonal relationships you’ve patiently been building, on the page, for the past twenty six days. No one can speak with your exact voice, plot with your precious, unique brain, say what you want to say, and bring the reader to feel what you want them to feel, but you.
Basically, there is no one in the whole of human existence who can write your novel—as tortured and as imperfect and as intangible as it still is—other than you. And if you quit, well, the novel will have nobody left in its corner.
And that’s, frankly, scary enough to keep me typing even when there’s no fortitude whatsoever left in my fingers, when Day Thirty seems like a misremembered dream of a rather younger, more reckless version of me. That’s why I will not take a single day off of writing this November—for the first time in my life, I believe—and why I’m not quitting even after I’ve gone through almost all of the backup power I might’ve once had as a writer, and now I’m nearing the reserves I might have as a person, too.
Because there’s one thing that scares me more than writing for four more days—the possibility of leaving this novel unwritten.
So let’s do this November writing thing to the end, shall we?
After all, there’s just four days left!
Photo by Marianne Perdomo.