Thursday, October 28
So I'm informed that NaNoWriMo (doesn't that shorthand just about make you retch?) is only fifty thousand words. So 1666 and two thirds words a day. Or, if you're cheating and started yesterday on something that is not a novel at all and intend to do most of the writing at night when you can't sleep anyway, about 1390 a night.
That still strikes me as one metric shitload of text. We are talking a couple of solid hours a day here, at least — time I could easily devote, on the internet, to involving myself in stupidly ramified arguments or looking at funny cat pictures. Time I could easily devote to not looking at things on the internet at all, which in my line of work1 is exactly what I should be doing with all of the time I'm not actually being paid for.2
So why subject myself to this absurd marathon, especially now that I've spent something like a third of my life strenuously avoiding any serious involvement with the entire improve-yourself-as-a-writer-you-can-do-it-just-have-faith mentality that produces exercises like this?
Ok, here's one answer:
Heartbreak is a constant, every form of love is compromised, the larger world is full of staggering pain and degradation, and everything that ever has mattered or ever will matter to you is going to die. Basically, life is shit.
This is a rational and defensible way to understand things. Of course it's not the only one, but in the immortal words of Roast Beef Kazenzakis, I got depression. I'm not a real happy guy this particular late October.
Anyway, taking the life-is-shit hypothesis as a point of departure, I have only ever found a few things that help with the overwhelming sense that life is shit. I'm not getting laid these days, I've been cutting back on my drug use, and for the moment I'm way too busy being a technocratic cog in an idiosyncratic corner of the capitalist/statist/whateverist system to be spending much time subverting it. That pretty much leaves writing.
It's not that I enjoy writing, exactly. Like the man said: Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. I tell people I "like to write" because that's a pretty reasonable substitute for explaining that the state of having recently written something is often as close as I can get to a free and easy mind.
i should be in bed
Instead, I just downloaded a clock widget for my new cell phone that displays a picture of the Starship Enterprise. This might be the most sensible decision I've made all day long.
1 You know that old Far Side where the doting parents are watching the kid play Nintendo with visions of these amazing future job prospects dancing in their heads? I feel like the sardonic inverse of that attitude (which is to say the statement the cartoon was making) is roughly how my parents must have felt about the way I burned most of an adolescence in my bedroom, in front of my Gateway 2000, writing terrible code and clocking thousands and thousands of hours on IRC.
Well guess what: Now I go to work in the morning and log on to IRC and write terrible code. I BET NOBODY SAW THAT ONE COMING.
2 Which is kind of a funny question, when you're salaried. Although it is in almost every way preferable to an hourly wage and I try to stay mindful of how incredibly fucking privileged I am not to be punching a clock right now, it does sometimes occur to me that I'm not sure any more where the Work / Not Work divide falls in my life. I can't, for example, definitely say that the time I spend sleeping is Not Work, because for huge chunks of it I seem to be dreaming about code.