I’ve never taken part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is what I think they’re going through.
November’s the month when some writers will try
to write 50K words: NaNoWriMo is nigh.
You sign up, you tweet, everything’s looking dandy.
Your counter is zero. Some wine would be handy.
By Fireworks Night you have plotted and planned,
have a bristly moustache and a dropbox to hand.
Trouble is, you are slipping behind on the words
so you draw some more graphs and then play Angry Birds.
You panic and click on some ‘how to write’ plugs
where advice is to cold-turkey internet drugs.
“But I’m strong!” you will laugh, on your fourth G&T,
“Hell, NaNoWriMo doesn’t terrify me.”
By the 15th you should have got half of it done
but your characters suck and that hashtag game’s fun.
The next week it flies: Booker Prize in your sights
but the scurvy’s begun and your third act is shite.
The wordcounts of friends speed around and distract
with elaborate murder plots, stabs in the back:
how come THEY are so quick? You open a vein
to assist with the caffeine uptake by your brain.
Your last week approaches. You’ve given up sleep.
Your children have left you. Your scurvy sores weep.
The wordcount crawls upward, you catch yourself adding
vast swathes of bad adjectives, adverbs and padding.
“The edit’s the thing,” you repeat to yourself
and visualise your own book on the shelf.
You stagger outside on the first of December
and struggle to stand, or to breathe, or remember
the promise you made yourself this time last year.
“Don’t do that again. Fucking don’t. Am I clear?”
So, unloved and straggly, the emails limp in.
It’s the literary agents who pay for your sin.
One glance at your ‘fiction novella: complete’,
they hover a moment, and then press delete.