It is something; it is nothing; it is everything. There will be no place for it save in my cyber scrap book. It will never be framed and placed on the wall next to my degrees or credential, but, nonetheless, as whimsical as it is, as easily “forged” as it could be, I will not be able to look at it without associating some deeply cherished hopes and very real blood-sweat-and-tears with the effort it represents. It is more than a 50k+ attaboy. It represents passing a test: can I write a novel-length manuscript; can I do this thing that I have talked about doing nearly all my life? No certificate would have meant, “not this time” or maybe not ever. The parameters were self-imposed but no less stringent than those placed on a creative writing major working toward an MA. From that perspective, the whimsical blue and white certificate may therefore mean more personally than my college degree, for in this instance no professor, no curriculum, no colloquium could have been as demanding, exacting and critical as I myself was.
The August NoWriMo effort then represents a different test and, if passed, achievement. Can I write, with a running start of two final weeks of vacation, 50k+ of a manuscript while resuming work at the same time? In addition, can I actually finish a manuscript (the first draft of The Kevodran should be finished within the next 20 to 25k words)? Knowing my vocation as I do, this will be very difficult. Ironically, there is no sympathy for a secret life of letters even in an English department. Your total devotion is expected; your total sacrifice presupposed. Even as I am in the first movements of that trial, it is proving problematic and I find I am having to refine my “butt-in-chair” or “eyes-on-the-manuscript” skills as the aegis of July’s success lulls my focus.
The National NoWriMo in November is what might be considered the trial by fire, the last measurement and confirmation that my secret life of letters has a chance of not being so secret forever. Can I in the midst of a full working month, with a serious family holiday in the mix to boot, produce 50k+ of a manuscript? If I can pull that off, if I can make it through the demands of that challenge, with mondo-housecleaning to do and turkey, gravy and stuffing coming out of my ears, well then, the last excuse is laid to rest. Nothing this side of true physical or psychological disaster should stop me from writing novel-length manuscripts. It is something I will know in my bones and baring said disasters if I do not pursue it, it is because I am not a writer at heart.
Some may argue that whether or not I’m a writer is not subject to such subjective measurements, that it is something one intrinsically is and knows they are. I suppose, from a certain perspective that is true. Even if I do not produce novel length manuscripts, I will continue to write in my journals, editorialize in my secret blogs, write background material for my fairy-milieu and maintain my creative responses at HOL and by extension fan-fiction in JKR’s world, or JRRT’s, or GL’s. That however, to me, is not the same as the ambition to write original novel-length stories. I argue that it is a different breed of hound altogether and I need to know, must know, within and for myself if that dog will hunt or not. If I have tested myself most thoroughly then I can either without regret lay the ambition to rest or pursue it with a vengeance.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.