Five years ago today, I sat down to write my first novel. I had no idea how or where to start – all I knew was that I needed to follow this idea I couldn’t seem to shake and see where it might lead. For me, the NaNoWriMo pressure cooker helped counter a lifetime of over-editing, a crippling perfectionism that often kept me from writing any words at all.
In the last five years, I’ve spent time and money and tears trying to sculpt these words into a pleasing shape. I’ve experienced writer’s block that felt insurmountable and creative flow that seemed divine. There were moments when I felt – finally! – like I was becoming a good writer, and times when my inner critic assured me I was not. All writers know this struggle – just as they know they will keep writing anyway.
But if our words are inevitable, so too should be our celebrations of them. So this weekend, my husband and I gathered around the fire to honor this book being out on submission I burned pages in the flames (duplicates, of course) and spoke what I’d learned into the smoke as it rose to the sky. It was a moment of light at a time when the world feels so very dark, a ritual to mark the end of a process that has often felt endless. I don’t know if this is the book that gets published, but I know it’s the one that taught me how to write.
Tonight, I sit down for another year of NaNoWriMo. To be honest, I’m not feeling particularly motivated or inspired today. But now, I understand all the magic that awaits on the other side of 50,000 words, and I begin again.
Find more musings about my writing journey over on my new Instagram feed @samduboiswrites.