RIDING THE NANO RHINO
At two a.m. this morning, I hit the 50,000 word count for the National Novel Writing Month. It was a quiet moment, marked by the cacophony of snores from my two dogs and from my husband who was out cold with a laptop propped on his chest. Such is the fate of the writer. We are lone souls drifting along the invisible Ley lines that map our inner worlds.
What did I do to celebrate?
I clicked off the computer, put my husband’s laptop away, scratched my dogs’ bellies and went to bed.
Such is the fate of the writer. We are the last shift down and so we get to put the dishes away, make sure all the lights are out, and lock up.
Every year over a million of us migrate from the four corners of the globe to The National Novel Writing Site where Chris Baty and his staff put out a feast of forums to tickle the appetite of any writer regardless of age, writing experience, or genre preference. We choose our writing groups. We hook up with old friends and new friends. We tweak our profiles, title our novels, and write a brief synopsis on what our novel is about. We choose our rhino and mount up.
And then we all wait for Chris Baty to ring the bell.
Make no mistake, the Nano Rhino is a huge beast. 50,000 words in thirty days. When a writer bursts out of that chute it’s anybody’s guess whether she’s going to last twenty-four hours, let alone thirty days. Outlines, character lists, plot twists, crisis points? I’ve seen a lot of litter in the Nano ring. Occasionally, I’ve come across a skeleton with a pad it its lap and a pen still grasped in its boney fingers. Seems to me that there is no guarantee that any single technique will get you to the finish line.
It’s rhino country. The terrain is unpredictable; the beast temperamental.
This is my fourth Rhino. The first two rides ended rather badly. In a nutshell, I crossed the finish line with my heel caught in the stirrup, my ego skinned from my ass and a whole lot of dirt up my nose and in other places. The third rhino marked a change in my performance. I made the word count early, clocked out, and made ten home-made pies for Thanksgiving Dinner. That was fantastic.
This year, I rode the rhino across the finish line in eighteen days. I did it without self-flagellation, without giving up my favorite television series, and without locking everyone in the basement. I did it quietly with a nod to anyone who walked in to stare at me and ask me if I’d glued my butt to the chair. I did it with great pleasure and with an edge of madness that stemmed from the discovery of how to ride my rhino. I pass it on to you in the hope that you will find something worthwhile in my journey across the wild country that is National Novel Writing Month.
The secret to my success comes down to one thing:
Be kind to your rhino.
Touch it. Learn the vast array of valleys and mountains carved into its skin. Stick your fingers in its ears and dig out the dust of where it’s been. Peer into the universe birthed in its gaze and smell the dangerous lust that drives it. Breath all of it in. Absorb that awesome potential and claim it for your own.
When you climb onto its back, you’ll find the view is breathtaking and the possibilities, endless.