30.11.12

NaNoWriMo Day #30

He likes to appear studious.
Every morning, I wake to a certain black cat (named Dante Alighieri) meowing at my bedroom door, acting like he's dying of hunger. When I can take the meows no longer, I climb out of bed, where two dogs are just as eager to get out as he is to get in.

So I take pity on the most pitiful of meowers and lead him downstairs where I feed him. He scarfs his food down like I've never, ever fed him before, and then shoves one of our other cats away from her bowl to steal her food because she's a slower eater and he thinks he's still hungry.

Well, this morning was no different. Except that for the first time ever, Dante ate so fast that he puked up his just-eaten breakfast back into his bowl.

But he was an adorable kitten.
With all the grace of a cat, he'd eaten it again before I could even move to clean it up. (Maybe I should have put a "disgusting" warning on this post.) He then polished off the last bites of his food and moved on to shove the other cat out of the way.

But I started thinking about this incident in light of today being the last day of NaNoWriMo 2012. And I suddenly realized--to my utter dismay--how my writing is so often like my cat's regurgitated breakfast.

I spend a week or a month thoroughly thinking through a project, hoarding all of my ideas and keeping them tight inside me, afraid to mention them even to myself. It's like I'm afraid to put things on paper and somehow commit myself to writing a novel that may be absolute swill.

Then, like my cat, when NaNo rolls around, I puke it all out in the space of 30 days and nights (it takes me a little longer to vomit, apparently).

If I were a cat, I'd be hiding under a box right now, too.
I'll just be hiding under my covers instead.
Like my cat, I immediately want to make it all disappear. But it's not because I find it appetizing, as I can only assume Dante did, but because it feels like some mistake I need to suck back inside me before I fully realize that I am, in fact, NOT a talented writer, and this novel IS rubbish.

So I got to thinking today (in the midst of trying to finish NaNo 2012 strong).

How often do I start a project with such exuberance that I puke up everything about it onto my computer and then immediately (sometimes before I've even finished) want to erase what I've written? How often do I think that 99% of what I've written is not worth the memory on my computer it takes to save it?

I've done this before. Began novels that started strong, and by halfway through the first draft, I realized that my plot was so full of holes, or I hadn't done enough research, that I abandoned it, certain I bit off more than I could chew. I rarely go back to those novels, embarrassed by their victory over me, and allowing my self-doubt to convince me that there was nothing there worth keeping anyways.

I like to call him my little panther...
Cringe-worthy writing, if written by me, I feel is never worth reading. And yet I know I should not feel that way. Because I know that when it comes down to it, there's always something in a piece of writing that could be worth keeping. Even if the grammar is unreadable, the plot full of holes and the characters cliche (case in point for at least two of those: NaNo novel 2011), there could be one sentence or one idea that is perfect. (Okay, maybe not perfect. Maybe just able to be perfected.)

So perhaps this coming year, 2013, I'll dust off one of those old manuscripts or half-manuscripts, and give it a second chance. Or at least a rejuvenated set of eyes.