Since a lot of you writerly-types are in the throes of National Novel Writing Month, this post applies to you as much as its a confessional.
A truth: I feel like I write about endings quite a bit on this blog. Some of my most successful posts have been about my spectacular breakups. (I suspect there won’t be anymore of those: apologies for the redundancy, but I also think I had my last first date a few months ago. More about that guy later, since he’s graciously supplied me with the footage from every cheap shot in Until Dawn — a horror-based video game a la Cabin in the Woods, but without the Lovecraftian influences — and since he’s sitting next to me on the couch, he’s going to be in the vlog.) Endings, of course, preclude new beginnings. I wonder sometimes if that knowledge makes each completed chapter a little easier to negotiate.
Another truth: I should be working on my triumphant return-post to The Midnight Society, which I’m angling to release into the wild this weekend. I should be doing revision work. I should take off my makeup. I wasn’t planning on blogging tonight, but today was significant, and it aligns with the whole NaNoWriMo thing:
NaNo is a gruelling effort. I’ve tried it a couple of times, and I’ve never “won.” To “win” at NaNoWriMo, you must complete a draft of fifty thousand words in a month. If you write every day, this amounts to roughly 1670 words a day for the month of November. The only prize you get at the end is an ugly-looking first draft of something probably incomplete that you will need to revise aggressively later to make it even remotely palatable. (I have dark feelings about my NaNo experiences. I still think everyone should try it once — in fact, the first first draft of Wake the Dead was born from a NaNo novel, but today it resembles nothing like it at all. I killed that thing so hard in the first revision that it looks like my sordid fan-writing self from a decade ago cobbled it together. Graves/Eden OTP 4life FTW OMG.) My regular writing schedule amount to about one thousand words a day if I’m in good form, and I’m doing that five days a week. Revision? I no longer care about the stupid word count. I’m hacking away paragraphs anyway, trying to bring the entire manuscript down to something manageable. Concise. Tight. Vicious writing. Show no mercy.
Wait in no lines. Suffer no fools. Take no prisoners. Writing.
I have never given up on NaNoWriMo. I have never quit NaNoWriMo. But I have also never “won” NaNoWriMo in the sense that I needed to produce x amount of words only to rewrite them later. I only stopped to step back, and realize that the format wasn’t working for me when one third of my daily word count was complete and utter shit.
I did, however, scribble “The End” at the end of a NaNoWriMo-born book. I did find a pattern and a goal/reward system that worked for me to get it done. I never forgot the manuscript, or where it started, or ignored it for too long. I finished the thing. I did the thing. But I never quit it, and neither should you. It took a lot longer than a month for me, but that month had an exceptional springboard motivational effect: it gave me ideas, and ideas are fodder for magical things that happen on the page when you fumble your way from bed at three o’clock in the morning and struggle to find a scrap of paper to write on.
This is the nature of writer’s brain: we live in the worlds we create for a time, and then we move on to something new. We build characters from nothing, breathe life into them, and eventually we let them go to live in the minds of our readers. We release the things we create into the wild. We give them life, and we take life away when we’re done.
Often, you just need to know when its time to say goodbye.
Today, I scrawled “THE END” on something large — a huge chunk of life. Today, I was victorious in my own way. I did not give up so much as I closed the book. I didn’t quit, but I did because sometimes quitting is a formality when something has run its course, and you’ve done everything you needed to do, and you’ve finished your business, and you’re ready to move on.
I made that decision a week ago, and its something I’m at peace with — deep, satisfied, bittersweet peace. A little mournful, a little wistful; missing a few old designer friends who I’ve spent my time with, and nostalgic for the really great works I’d produced in five years at this company.
Today I quit my job.
I entitled this post “quitter” because it’s an old joke between one of my colleagues and I — one that used to come up when we went out for drinks and I’d decide to end the night early. In truth, those nights ended when they needed to, and so too is this part of my life. This story ends exactly where it needs to so another can begin.