Hey, bitchez! ‘Sup? NaNoWriMo status update. One week: 52,540 words. I ‘won’ in a week! What’s more, I met my own daily goal of 7,500 words a day.
I am actually writing about this for more than just a reason to crow. I’d had this post simmering in the back of my mind for a bit. After reading whabs entry on failure and Kel’s on saying no, the ideas for this post just came together. As is my wont, I am gonna take my time getting there, so grab a mug of tea or coffee and enjoy.
I have always had stories in my mind. They come, usually fully form, and they dance around my brain until I write (type) them down. I think of myself as a conduit for the stories. Yes, I give birth to them, but once they are ‘born’, they do as they will. If I try to make the characters in my stories do something they don’t want to do, they rebel and make the scenes as flat and wretched as possible.
I believed it was a gift, and I still do. However, in the past, I took absolutely no credit for my writing. People would gasp in amazement at my prolific output, and I would just shrug and say, “It’s no big deal.” Because, you see, it’s easy for me to write. I just sit down at my computer and type away. Last night, I timed how long it took me to write 7,500 words. Three hours. Not bad. Since the words pour effortlessly from me, I thought anyone could do it. Just put fingers to the keyboard and type.
When I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2007, I was telling my therapist how anyone could write 5,000 words a day (my goal then). She stopped me and said impatiently, “Minna, that’s not true. Not everybody could do that.” In the last week, I’ve gotten the same answer from several people whose opinions I trust. And, I really started to think about it. 7,500 is a lot of fucking words. I mean, each blog entry I do is roughly a thousand words (though a few top out over two thousand), so it’s as if I’m writing seven blog entries in a day.
Seven fucking blog entries a day. When I thought of it that way, it blew my mind away. 7,500 words. I forced myself to acknowledge that it was an accomplishment, indeed.
Last night, I hung out at BJ while waiting to see if the House would do the right thing and pass healthcare reform that is half-baked, but tons better than anything we’ve had in the past fifty years or so. By the way, mad props to Joseph Cao, the lone Republican who voted for the bill (Vietnamese American representing a Louisiana district that voted approximately 75% for Obama). I hope he has really good protection.
Anyway, DougJ, one of the front pagers asked us to post something good, so I said that I would make the NaNoWriMo goal later that night. I was hesitant to put it out there because I didn’t want to brag, but damn it, I was stoked about it. I got responses from, “Way to go!” to “Did you cheat?” to “No one can write that much per day!” One woman scolded me playfully for raising the bar so high, but it was all in good fun.
Here is the point. If one of my friends told me she was doing NaNoWriMo and had written 50,000 words in a week, I would be fucking impressed. I would say, “Wow, that’s fucking fantastic! You rock, girl!” And I would give her a high-five, whether virtually or for real. Yet, when I do it myself, I consider it no big deal. I downplay it and say that anyone could do it if s/he really put her/his mind to it. Why is that?
First, like I said, since it comes easily to me, I undervalue it. I look at the talents of my friends and I marvel at them. I look at my own talents and say, “I was born with them.”
Second, again, it’s part of my training, especially as a woman. Be modest. Be demure. Don’t be boastful or proud. Don’t be arrogant or bitchy. It’s also endemic in Asian culture, so I got a double shot of it. Never toot your own horn lest you seem unseemly. Any time I said anything remotely good about myself, my dad would tell me to be humble. It’s only in the last year that I’ve quoted Poirot (from Agatha Christie’s books) back at him. “If I saw another man with the same talents, I would say, but how talented he is! Why should I not say the same when it is I who has the talent?” Yes, I am paraphrasing, but you get the gist.
Third, it was hammered home to me that I didn’t matter. By logical extension, then, my talents didn’t matter. Who cared if I could tell pretty little stories (ok, not so pretty, but you know what I mean)? What really did that matter in the end?
Back to whabs and Kel. whabs’ post is on how other people’s expectations are sometimes a burden because they make you feel like a failure, even when you are doing more than anyone would have a right to expect you to do. Yes, whabs, that is my interpretation. My blog, my interpretation. Kel’s post, on the other hand, is on learning how to say no and not feeling the need to justify it or qualify it.
These are lessons that we all can learn, but especially people (mostly women) who have been abused. To that, I will add my lesson for the day: Toot your own goddamn horn from time to time. If you do something that would impress you if someone else did it, then be impressed when you do it, too. It’s not different because it’s you (and I’m saying this mostly to remind myself of this truth). Savor your accomplishment and tell everyone you love about it. If they really love you, they will be amazed and delighted as well. If they don’t really love you, then fuck them with a rusty pitchfork eleven billionty ways of Sunday.
I would be goddamn fucking impressed if someone told me that s/he ‘won’ NaNoWriMo in a week. I would shake that person’s hand and say, “Heck of a job, _______ (insert name)”, and I would mean it from the bottom of my heart. I would admire that person and think that s/he was really on the ball. So, in good conscience, I can’t turn around and say it was nothing when I am the one who accomplished the feat.
In light of this, I am taking time out from NaNoWriMo to publicly pat myself on the back for a job well done. Now, I will see if I can match the output in week two!
*Big Gay Al from the South Park movie, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. I love this movie, and the Mole is the kid I would have had if I’d had kids. Update: Grr. Video got taken down. I had to substitute a crappy version.