My NaNoWriMo “novel” isn’t much of anything. It’s about a bazillion words too short, and I doubt I catch up, but what I have so far is making me happy. It’s more or less a massive brain dump, in which bits of fiction and nonfiction are interspersed with no organization whatsoever. In other words, if I thought it, I wrote it. If I suddenly thought of something entirely different from what I was writing previously, I made a new paragraph and wrote that, too.
There aren’t any rules, so the “novel” is filled up with stuff like this:
He once smoked. When he blew the ring of smoke out of his mouth, I could see through it and into your eyes. You were probably smoking the same cigarette, breathing the same air, just halfway across town and standing in a different Walmart, a different strip mall, beside a different pickup truck.
I’m hoping that one of these odd snippets can be the basis for a story, or get me back on track with the story I was writing, but most of them are attempts to figure something out. (Although I don’t know what that something is.) If I don’t think while I write, there’s a good chance the writing and the feelings behind it are genuine because they are coming directly from my subconscious mind.
It’s liberating to write that way, without consciously thinking about it. You sometimes find things that surprise you. One technique for writers is called the Morning Pages, in which you write three pages a day in a stream of consciousness. It’s supposed to get your brain started, and from what I’ve experienced, it works. So I’m treating this NaNo like the Morning Pages.
How’s your NaNoWriMo going?
There’s a popular Internet meme that goes like this:
Exasperated Parent: Go to your room!
Today’s Child: Oh, you mean the place with my phone, TV, and computer? I’M ON MY WAY!
When you were sent to your room as a child, did you want to stay there? What did you have in your room? A telephone, board games, a TV, a video game system, a cabinet full of toys?
I never had a TV, but I always had toys and books, and when I was a teenager, I had my Game Boy and a radio. I neither had a phone nor wanted one. I didn’t get a computer in my room until I was in college. At that point, I also got a desk on which to set up the computer (it was a big clunky desktop). The desk was where I did all of my writing until 2016, when I finally got a laptop and was no longer confined to my room.
Do kids today have desks in their rooms? Do they have books? If they don’t, they ought to. I’m concerned about kids not having decent attention spans because all they can focus on is the world inside a tablet or a phone. The standardized tests today cannot measure their ability to focus, their creativity, or their critical thinking.
There is something magical about desks and writing and books that encourages creativity. Kids should be taught from an early age that what is inside their imagination is important and should be expressed. What better place to do that than at one’s own desk?