It's November 3rd.
National Novel Writing Month has been upon us for three days, and I've already hit my fifth plan of what to do with that high holy month of many a scribe. I finally signed into the NaNoWriMo site and familiarized myself with the current toolset, which I didn't think I really needed this year, but then again . . .
But here's the thing I really struggled with this year: Why should I write anything at all? Or, to put it more specifically, why should I write anything more than this ongoing bloggarhea that I can't seem to help but do, with that somewhat narcissistic purpose of keeping a public Sherlockian diary? And a novel? Don't we have enough of those, especially by aged white male heterosexuals who aren't really the folks that the average reader seems to want to read these days?
Let me sink fully into the despair part of this little diatribe before we begin its rising motion. Do you know what makes me never want to write again whenever I pass through its doors? Barnes and Noble. There are just so many books in the average Barnes and Noble that I totally lose interest in producing yet another one. We seem to have more books than any of us can read. What hasn't been written about? What story hasn't been told?
Well, plenty of them, actually. But . . . Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock frackin' Holmes. I am but an asteroid in the belt of fannish orbit around that celestial body, and I'm happy there. I like writing about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. But when they were originally written about by the greatest of those who write about them, and then written about by many other great talents since, well, again, a real motivation killer. And the market for . . . .
Yeeks, that word "market." The word "market" is something for business, not writing. True, like any other good or service, someone hoping to be in the business of exchanging words for money must take that into consideration. The National Bureau of Labor Statistics tells me that there were less than 2,000 people employed as writers in Illinois in 2018, and they almost all seem to be in the Chicago or St. Louis area. Those folks can be concerned about markets.
As I roll into my seventh decade of life (That's the sixties, y'all. Seventies aren't here quite yet.), I really don't have any hopes and dreams of great writing success, like those youthful hopes of getting someone to notice that you the different duck in the herd, deserving a larger platform. The illusions have all been washed away by the years, and yet, and yet, I still write. I still write. And write.
I actually had to force myself to quit writing today, long enough to write this. (Does that even make sense?) I had to force myself to quit writing so I could write some podcast, as well. I seem to have the opposite of writer's block this year, and I'll tell you why.
The project that finally clicked into place for NaNoWriMo this year was a Sherlock Holmes related novel that I absolutely and positively do not give a fuck about. Well . . . other than that it gets completed. I don't care what it winds up being about, I don't care if anyone ever finishes reading it, though I imagine someone will surely start. So far it seems to be a Netflix series that's streaming out of my head and I'm doing a full binge. Crazy? You betcha. Once that becomes a part of your brand, you might as well embrace it.
So here is my one bit of writerly advice for those of you out there wanting to get writing on some future challenge like National Novel Writing Month: Play around until you find that thing that you just can't stop writing about. Don't force yourself on a death march for some drab idea you think someone else will approve of, unless there's ready cash in it. Somebody else can take care of those.
Writing, at its best, is just plain fun. Have you some. (And try the Comic Sans thing -- it's hard to take yourself too seriously when writing in Comic Sans, and that offers freedom you don't get when your words look like they're already in a printed book.)
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