This week, my psychiatrist asked me if I was working on a book. I told him I’d started and discarded no less than seven books. He asked me why I’d done that. I said it because they were bullshit and no one would want to read them.
He asked this question the same way you ask a person why they decided to go to a particular place for vacation. Like it’s a knowable thing. Like it’s a questions that doesn’t demand an existential answer. Like it wouldn’t send me into a total and complete tailspin. Like it’s a normal thing to say to someone.
He suggested there might be a bigger issue at play than just not finishing books and that perhaps I should think about that. Perhaps my frustration in some other parts of my life was a result of the unfinished work on my writing. So I said I would think about it, and politely went about my business.
About 36 hours later, I had a complete come apart and cried a lot and drank a bunch of vodka. It’s possible there was a more sane way to handle that. But maybe not.
The truth is I don’t know why I haven’t finished. I can give you a lot of totally legit market analysis about why what I write isn’t that different from what other people do (and they do it much better), so there’s really no space for my stuff. I can tell you that I haven’t done anything in real life interesting enough to write about.
I can explain any number time considerations and personal issues. I don’t feel qualified to be a life coach or spiritual advisor or any of the other things we expect writers to be, particularly female writers. I haven’t overcome much other than my own disastrous personality. I’m late a lot.
But none of those is the real answer. I just… haven’t finished.
So I’m going to do the thing that I hate to do almost more than anything in the world. I’m going to join something. I know. It sounds awful to me too. But I have to do something to force myself to actually finish something. Because buckets of vodka aren’t much of a solution.
Beginning November 1, I’m going to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I don’t know if it will technically be a novel. But I’m going to follow their stupid rules and make myself finish a damn book. Even if it’s bullshit. Even if I never let anyone read it. Even if it never goes anywhere or does anything. I’m going to finish a book before this year is over.
I’m also telling you about it here because now I have to do it. I can’t chicken out and pretend I didn’t say it or flake on this project. It’s 30 days, for crying out loud. I can do this work for 30 days. Even if it’s bad work, it will still be complete work.
I don’t think this will necessarily make me sane. But it might make me less neurotic. And that might be nice.