78 Pages and a Sprinkle

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“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” Ann Lamott

The challenge is complete. Last night, at midnight, the NaNoWriMo challenge officially ended, and not a moment too soon. Though I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the act of sitting down daily to write, pushing myself to think of memories that don’t always come readily, like the time I broke my arm sliding down the slide wearing sweater tights, or how my brother kept saying “my feet are nice and moist,” when he got a concussion mopping the floors with his sock clad feet while I was his high-school babysitter. I have no idea the quality of the writing, or the quality of the memories, but somehow, bit by bit I wrote, daily, to complete a whopping 78 pages plus a few little sprinkles. I used three wheels of ink for the typewriter, and a partial ream of paper that I might have ‘borrowed’ from the office copier. Living dangerously on borrowed paper.

Today I borrowed a few more pages, and made myself a photocopy of the original. Because someday I’m going to want to revisit this ‘masterpiece,’ and do some edits. Or maybe that’s overly ambitious the day after the challenge is over. Maybe I’m always looking forward to new projects. A year barefoot. A year without shopping, or buying books. Three years without shaving any body hair. 30 days of yoga in a summertime. A month of daily writing, 78 pages later. A few tiny accomplishments, which leads me to my new favorite podcast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two Spokane poets. Sherman’s on my mind a lot since I’m teaching one of his novels next quarter.

Maybe I’ll look over these stories in the springtime. Read them. Edit them. See where they can be tweaked and shaped into something new. For now they’ll go in my folder of completed words that live a life unseen by the public, unlike this blog.

Word Count. Page Count.

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I managed to bum my parent’s old broken word processor for the month of November. Well, technically forever, since my mom was adamant “just take it to Goodwill when you’re done.” I’m in the throes of NaNoWriMo, and find myself cycling between ‘oh, this is really fun, I hadn’t remembered that memory,’ and ‘this sucks ass, why am I doing this, who would even read this terrible shit?’

Thankfully I’ve read enough Ann Lamott over the years to know that my shitty first draft monkey mind is probably right on par. The word processor part is broken, but I have managed to get it on the typewriter setting, so I spend my nights “typing away furiously like Angela Landsbury,” according to Boof. I manage to get at least two pages a day, sometimes three, or four, and at my last count I was up to a whopping 27 typed pages of pure memory drivel. While the rest of the NaNoWriMoers are coming up with complex stories rivalling the best selling romance Twilight, I am putting down words around every Halloween costume I’ve ever worn. And all the Halloween candy I stole as a kid. And why I can’t stop eating these damn mini snickers bars. Memoir writing at its finest.

What’s lovely about the whole romantic writing style, is that I can’t edit, delete, or save. When a page is done, with it’s terrible margins and weird spacing from the time the paper got caught up on the little banged up metal thingy inside, it gets put in the mounting stack. Hopefully my house won’t burn down anytime soon (mostly because that would suck, but also I would lose all of my work…and my house). I have no idea if I’ll make the 50,000 word arbitrary NaNoWriMo goal, mostly because I can’t actually do a word count on typewritten nonsense. But I already feel like a winner. To see the ever growing stack of finished pages sitting next to me on the table, and to know that I have 11 days of sitting-down-and-writing-regardless-of-how-I-feel under my belt, is something to be proud of.

Pass another mini-Snickers, let’s celebrate!