I’m Super, Thanks for Asking!*

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.

15 Responses to I’m Super, Thanks for Asking!*

  1. Good for you, my twin. I’m proud of you. =)

    And thank you for the shout-out too.

    I can’t imagine writing that much in a month, much less a week. You truly do rock.

  2. Congratulations, Minna. You did something that I could not. you have my admiration and, indeed, my awe.

    You deserve a victory lap.

  3. Again, congratulations on reaching your goal. But especially, congrats on being willing to toot your horn. It’s not just talent that allows you to do this; it’s practice, and a love of writing. Keep it up!

    BTW – “Did you cheat?” – LAME. You should send them a fake 5,000-word ‘sample’ with nothing but the words “All work and no play makes Minna a dull girl” repeated over and over. And tell them that you plan to show up at their front door in 10 minutes. Even if you don’t know what I’m talking about, they will (The Shining).

  4. whabs, thanks. This is my point for you: You are fucking whabulous. I will say this until I am blue in the face.

    Kel, thanks. I’m kinda proud of me, too. 😉

    Gregory, thank you. I’m going to dance outside in the rain–as soon as it rains.

    Choolie, thank you. Well, some people DO cheat by using a story they had already started. I don’t need to do that, though. Heh. Woot woot! YAY ME!

  5. Good god, that is impressive. I don’t think I could churn out that many words in a week if I was hopped up on Coke Zero and methamphetamines. That is super cool. I will try to use it as inspiration to get more of my own writing done.

  6. Also, I agree with your horn tooting point. I find it very uncomfortable to do that. Which, since I’m applying for jobs this year, I should probably get over!

  7. Wow — that’s a lot!

    7,500 words in three hours is about 42 words per minute with no breaks. Even just typing that much would be impressive!


  8. Betsy, you crack me up. I am hoping others will be inspired to create at will, too. Thanks for your kind words. As for applying for jobs, yes! You can turn the hose on them, but they might not like that so much. Just write about yourself as you would about a friend. That’s the trick I’m using right now.

    Alex, thanks, and good to see you again! I type roughly a hundred words a minute, so yeah, being able to create at forty-two words a minute is not bad.

  9. D’oh! #3 is me, logged in from my lovely wife’s computer. (Though I’m sure she’d agree with me.) I forgot to check the ID field. Sorry!

  10. Choolie, yeah, well, fuck FB with a rusty pitchfork eleven billionty ways of Sunday. I ain’t no ‘bot!

    Gregory, fixed! Heh. I love being the mistress of my domain. Thanks, as always, for your support. 😀

  11. Minna I danced in the rain once. Being from Seattle and used to cold rain, I was in Arizona during monsoon season. It was 90 degrees at 8:30 and it poured warm rain. I stood out in the warm cascading rain dancing alone in the shadows of a fancy resort. People stared at me like I was insane.
    My dad was yelling at me to come in because of lightening, I was just living in my own way for a moment.
    When it stopped raining it was 82 degrees.
    It was a tiny slice of heaven.

  12. I don’t know that I could crank out 7500 words in one story in a year. Congratulations for you are fabulous!

  13. whabs, I’ve danced naked in the rain, which really is heavenly. I think more people should dance in the rain. I’ve never tried that in the snow, but I just might this winter.

    Kali, thanks, babe. I think your pretty fab yourself, no matter your verbal output.