Felonious stupidity. I should be arrested for being so dumb. Why did I say yes to something that I can’t possibly commit to?
Because I am an extra credit junkie.
The lure of an “A” has often caused me to do things I regret later. Out of all the extras I have done though, I haven’t ever gone so far as to sign up to write what amounts to a seven page essay everyday for thirty days. Forget about being arrested for committing a crime of stupidity, I should just be committed. Committed for being crazy. It really is crazy to think that I am going to be able to write 1,600 words a day for the next thirty days.
Actually, because I am such a procrastinator I am already 3,200 words in the hole. I should quit before I am not even ahead. That EC “A” beckons me like the dark chocolate Dove bar stashed in my desk drawer. Besides I already told my English teacher, Mrs. X, I would do it and she will be checking my progress throughout the month.
So what did I sign up for? National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, just plain NaNo. The idea has been around awhile and while I’ve never heard of it Mrs. X has and she announced last week, “If any of you are willing to go the distance of the thirty days and bring me your certificate of completion it’s worth 200 points.”
We were all stunned. She never hands out that much extra credit. That’s the value of a unit assessment. Considering how much I want to get my lackluster “B-” up to an “A” I didn’t allow reason to have any voice when I signed up. Oh, yes. She made us sign up and posted it on the bulletin board for the entire class to witness. We are supposed to write in how many words we write everyday. As added incentive she said we will get an extra 50 points if I create a blog. No names will be mentioned unless I forget to X them out.
This is my first blog and I don’t really know what I am doing. I read other people’s blogs and always thought it would be cool to create my own. I am a bit inept when it comes to technology. It took me over an hour to figure out how to set up my blog page, and I played around with header photos and background colors and theme options until I realized I hadn’t actually done any writing. At all. I did mention I am a procrastinator, didn’t I?
This whole NaNo thing is supposed to be about me writing a book instead of writing whatever comes to mind. I love to read–in fact, I practically devour books, but I can’t think of anything I want to write about. At least an idea that would constitute enough for a novel. I have to admit the idea of committing to writing almost 1,600 words a day is both frightening and enticing because I do love words almost as much as I love reading.
“Words, words, words.” That’s from Hamlet, the best play ever. At that point in the play Hamlet was feigning madness and Polonius was trying to see if Hamlet was really mad or not. Words can make a difference in all things. They deceive, illuminate, shape, change, and Shakespeare is the all time champion of words. I read he introduced around 2,000 words into the English language. 2,000! My parents introduced me to Shakespeare when I was nine with Midsummer Night’s Dream and I became a Bardanator shortly after. A Bardanator is a Shakespeare enthusiast. It’s more than being a fan. It’s someone who understands. It goes beyond knowing factoids, trivia, and spouting quotes. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
No one at my school is much interested in Shakespeare and last year in ninth grade a collective groan resonated when Mr. Y announced we were studying Romeo and Juliet. I had already read it–last count I’m up to my fourth time through. The way not to read it is with a bunch of fourteen year olds who can’t pronounce Old English and can’t get past sounding like monotone humanoids. The teacher had the class switch to the No Fear Shakespeare format and we finished the play reading it in contemporary language. Not the same thing. Not. Not. Not. I would never appreciate Shakespeare had that been my first Bard encounter.
That’s an idea for my book. Something with Shakespeare. Maybe rewrite one of the plays in a modern setting. Like West Side Story is really Romeo and Juliet. Mom has the DVD collector’s edition and we watch it together at least once year.
Right now Mom and I aren’t getting along. I don’t know why. Then again I do. It’s really rotten to admit this, but she’s not my favorite parent. There I’ve said it. Freely confessed. Now I can feel terrible and lay awake all night swathed in guilt. Since lightning did not strike me, I will try to explain why I feel that way about Mom. It’s not that I don’t like Mom; it’s just that I like Dad better. That sounds way worse. Parents aren’t supposed to show preference for their children, so children shouldn’t either.
Here’s what it is. My parents are both writers. Dad is a free-lancer, which is getting more and more difficult to do these days, he says, but he’s pretty good at it. He’s been published in all kinds of magazines like Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Esquire, Dwell, National Geographic, and even Parents. He travels around going on assignment and I don’t see him as much as I would like. When he comes home from one of his trips he goes right into work mode and works on his assignment until it’s done. When it is done and sent off to his editor he is all there and we do such amazing things together. One time we went on an alphabetical scavenger hunt where we each took half the alphabet and came up with places in our town that started with each letter and then we had to visit each place in the span of ten hours. That’s the kind of dad he is. He is a bit of a Christmas package dad, I guess. I wait ever so long for him to finally be all there and then when he is, the day is immeasurably fantastic.
Mom is also a writer. She does catalog blurbs. Kind of cool, but also kind of embarrassing. I can go to most any library or bookstore and find a magazine that contains a byline article by Dad. With Mom, her stuff is in lots of name brand catalogs, like J. Crew, Abercrombie and Fitch, Lands’ End, but there isn’t any byline or writing credit and most catalogs end up in recycling or usually the trash. Besides Mom stays home. All the time. She doesn’t like to go out when she is writing out copy and I have to be quiet because she can’t concentrate with noise. Either she’s on her iPod or I am. We tend to tune one another out. That’s the way it is when Dad is gone. Mom retreats into workalone mode. Do Not Disturb signs appear. Metaphorically. I keep to my bedroom. Then again, when Dad’s home she’s so different. She laughs more, she’s more flexible and spontaneous, and we go out and see movies, plays, visit museums. Instead of seeing her as a my Christmas package mom I see her as giving her best to dad. Dumb adolescent anger, I know.
I’ve done everything except start my novel. Then again I learned in English that a writer’s background influences his or her writing. Edgar Allan Poe, for example. He wrote all these dark, creepy stories where someone is dying. I think that is because he had so much death in his own life: mother, surrogate mother, wife, cousin–who wouldn’t be influenced by so much death? I guess having professional writers for parents has influenced me. I’ve had a hybrid education of homeschool, public, private, and no school. We have what I heard my gran describe as an “eclectic way of coping.” I have lived in yurts, condos, houseboats, and even a treehouse. If background influences a writer, then I’m even curious what my novel is going to be about.
This is not close to 3,200 words. But at 1400 I’m calling it good for a start. I will be amazed if I come back tomorrow. We’ll see…