Death Said, “Hurry”

illustration by s. zainab williamsWhen I was a child even smaller than I am today, I’d often look up from my book and imagine what it might be like to be a writer. I pictured fingers raking through care-swept hair, piles of books, littered quills and crumpled paper, and the oldest writing desk buried beneath inked sheets and crawling with belligerent ravens. You know, high rafters, dust, and the empty, black space beyond.

I long ago left childhood behind and turned 32 this month. I’ve published a graphic novel and I’m on the cusp of querying my first full-length novel. It turns out that other than the ravens and the rafters, my naive vision of writing was mostly correct. I sit chained to my desk, which is piled high with all of the things I don’t have time to read or file, pulling out my hair, looking for red pens among the stupid decorative quills, most often isolated in my apartment. Replace the ravens with a cat I guess.

While I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, it’s not enough. I started this blog a few days before my 29th birthday when I realized I didn’t have all the time in the world. Like Captain Hook, I hear the clock ticking every second away and, grim as it may sound, birthdays have turned into reminders that I’m not working fast or hard enough. And when you spend almost all of your free time working, apologizing to friends, and basically living for this thing that sucks up your life, goals and results become that much more urgent.

Maybe I’d never get anything done if I wasn’t so frantic. I don’t know what will be the byproduct of aggressive ambition and the inability to meet my own expectations. All I know is that I spent my birthday in my apartment, editing my manuscript, and that it was the only thing I wanted to do.

I’ll Miss You NaNoWriMo

And just like that, Halloween ended.

Now it’s November. Out come the turkeys, the pilgrim hats…and the pens. November 1 marks the first day of National Novel Writing Month. Last month, I put pen to paper like never before and finally succeeded at writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It took three NaNoWriMos to get there, but I did it and accomplishing that goal was the biggest turning point in my history as a writer.

Today I kept encountering well-wishes to NaNoWriMo participants and I got a little blue. Deciding not to participate this year was a difficult decision, but it’s for good reason. The reason being, I’m working on my final revisions before sending last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript off for a professional critique.

Aurelia and the House of Dire has gone through so many changes since last November’s draft zero. Sometimes I get that urge to keep revising until I’ve drained this planet of all its red ink, but I know it’s time to let go and get outside opinions.

I’ll be on the NaNoWriMo sidelines this year, but I do have a goal for this month. On November 30, I drop the red pen and send my MS off for critique. What an exciting, terrifying prospect.