Whose bright idea was it to try to write a novel in 30 days?
Tuesday afternoon. "It seemed like a good idea at the time." How many tales of woe have contained that famous line? I have, as of 1:30pm PST, 5,800 words finished toward my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words by November 30. Doesn't that sound like I'm doing well? And yet, sadly, I really think I'm just churning out meaningless, pointless drivel. I have nearly no dialogue, too much internal monologue, and multitudinous plot lines dangling all over the place. I'm not really certain of where I'm trying to go in the short run, although I do know where I want it all to end up. At least, I think I do. This being a writer stuff is harder than it looks, you know? I keep telling myself to just let it flow and not worry about editing or continuity (or grammar, frankly), but it just isn't working. I think it's partly because of how detailed I have to be with my communications at work. I can't just "let it flow" when I'm crafting an email or documentation, I have to write it, then read it all through, then edit, then read again, and then, sometimes, have a second set of eyes read it through, too, before I publish. This is just making me feel very slipshod and lackadasical. Frankly, given my bent toward being overly concerned with details and being perfect, perhaps that's a good thing.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
"I just love mornings, don’t you? I wake up, smile ebulliently, and bound up the stairs to my kitchen. Then I wake up. I am most assuredly not a morning person. Some of my happiest days were in college when I managed to work my schedule so that none of my classes started before noon – heaven! Now that I’m (purportedly) a grown up, it’s up at five, one hour of walking, breakfast, newspaper, shower, get dressed and out the door by eight thirty. I’ve heard people talk about women who manage to roll out of bed half an hour before leaving for work and still look gorgeous, but I think it’s just another fantasy created by society to make the rest of us feel badly about ourselves. As though I needed any help. I am the queen of self-loathing and I wear my crown proudly."
"As with most things in my life, being healthy is an all or nothing thing for me. It’s the same with housekeeping: either I’m perfect or I just don’t even bother trying. I know that moderation is the key to everything, but I’m just not a moderate kind of girl. Anyway, I followed the diet site’s plan for eating and exercising to the letter, not allowing myself any deviations, and the weight started to fall off. It was so exciting to be able to post exciting entries on my blog about the new clothes I was buying and the nice things people kept saying about me. I knew that I had a long way to go because of how fat I was, but at least I was on my way.
After a month, I found a flyer advertising an upcoming 5K race. I had been walking regularly since the start of The Plan, so I signed up, showed up, and finished the race in a respectable (for someone of my size) 48 minutes. I really liked the camaraderie with the other walkers and runners, and I completed two other races in quick succession. I told myself that this was what it felt like to be happy and healthy.
It wasn’t until I was at the registration center for my fourth race that everything came crashing down on me. I was standing there, waiting patiently in line, when I heard two women behind me talking. “Look at the size of her,” one woman said. “I know, isn’t it sad?” the other replied, “Why don’t they have special races for fat people? No one wants to see all that fat and all that sweat.” I didn’t even have to turn around to know that they were talking about me. I’d noticed in the previous three races that I was consistently the largest person but I’d been feeling so good because of my weight loss that I hadn’t given it too much thought. I was still a Fat Girl, but I was trying, and that made it “OK”. Suddenly, I realized how ridiculous I looked, how monstrously huge I was in my spandex bike shorts and oversized t-shirt. I put my head down, headed back to my car, and started to cry.
On the way home, I drove through a fast food joint and ordered half of the menu to go. I ate until I felt sick, then I ate some more. I ate until it was all gone, long past the time when the food had still tasted good to me, and then I beat myself up mentally. “Why don’t you have any willpower?” “If only you weren’t so weak and pathetic, you’d be able to lose weight.” “If you weren’t such a fat cow, people would like you.” “You’re so stupid, what’s the point of even trying to lose this weight?” Most hurtful of all was, “You deserve to be fat.”
As quickly as it had come, all of my motivation for losing weight and being healthy went right out the door. What walked in the open door were shame and fear: shame because I knew I’d have to write about what I’d done and fear because I wasn’t sure how my readers would feel about my revelations. I hated myself and I knew that wouldn’t make good material, so I covered by writing fluff pieces about goings on at work and funny things my mom had said to me, even as I knew that my day of reckoning would not be denied forever."
So, the basic story so far is this: Fat Girl has OK life, terrible self esteem, and a fantastic friend (a facsimile of my friend, Tony). Fat Girl takes up writing innocently enough and begins to keep a web journal. Fat Girl puts herself on a strict diet and exercise regimen, only to be tripped up by her own obsession with perfection and the cruelty and intolerance of others. Sound faintly autobiographical? Um, yeah. Boring? I'm afraid so.