When I moved in to my first grown up apartment – and no, I don’t mean those 6’x8′ cellar dungeons I used to call home during university days….the small, cramped space where I’d stockpile my expensive and rarely used textbooks and musty vinyl collection, with a noisy refrigerator whose sole purpose for being was to keep the beer icy cold – I literally had an overstuffed and well cat clawed blue couch that travelled with me from my parent’s home in CB, a small TV liberated from my older sister, a 5-year-old Dell computer that worked best depending on how hard I might kick it, an eclectic and rather obsessively organized CD collection, and a small crowded bookshelf, filled with Stephen King and Anne Rice’s finest, next to classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye from my former English major days. The small kitchen contained a few mismatched pots, pans and dishes salvaged from the aforementioned and ever so helpful big sis….but no kitchen table. There was no need, as work and a fairly active social life left little time or desire to eat at “home”. The open concept living room/dining room contained neither a coffee table or end tables, as it seemed to me that might only collect mess and clutter. And, as you might recall, the misguided words from a kindly ol’ nun from my childhood left me somewhat deeply changed, with the undying impression that clutter was somehow… wrong. Bad. Evil , even. And so I’d have none of that. In a sense, I learned to recycle long before it became vogue or….you know…necesarry to save our environment and the future of all humanity and all that. Mail would quickly be opened, then filed and/or shredded. Empty cans and bottles collected and dropped off on the curb, where some poor homeless dude would quickly make off with them. Countertops sparkled, floors shined, and dishes safely stacked away behind cupboard doors, avoiding any prying eyes. If I needed to take note of something or write it down, I would often need to write it on my hand or home to remember it, as a scrap of paper to simply jot things down was simply nowhere to be found. Things seemed sterile and safe, clean and simple, and I often joked with friends that if I needed to move away quickly for whatever reason – say I finally won a million dollars or decided finally that my arch nemesis of the moment must die and I needed to flee the country quickly -I could probably pack all I needed or wanted in a small box and be off into the sunset. And I continued this way for years, and my orderly universe continued to spin neatly on its axis, a life lived clean and clutter free. Where everything had its place, and it’s place was….well, tidy.
And then….along came Shawn.
That’s “National Novel Writing Month” to the uninitiated. (But, just try saying it out loud….NaNoWriMo sounds much more cool!). To those in the know, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, is an international, internet based, creative writing contest that takes place annually every November. NaNo challenges writers (professional, amateur, wanna bes, and everyone in the middle) to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. As it’s website states, the contest is designed to “value enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft”. Meaning, in simpler terms, what you write doesn’t have to be good, there just needs to be a lot of it. The rules are very simple: starting at midnight, November 1st, you have until 11:59:59 on November 30th to complete your novel or your 50,000 word draft novel in progress. You can plan and outline as much as you like prior to the starting date, but what you write must be original to that time frame, i.e., no previous written work should be included. No prizes are awarded for quality, speed, or proficiency. In fact, the only way to win this thing is to finish it. And when you cross that finish line, simply upload said masterpiece to the NaNoWriMo website, where whole teams of eagerly awaiting Nano-ites will verify the word count and declare you a WINNER. Hell, you even get a certificate saying so.
Welcome to my very first blog post, on my very first and incredibly shiny new blog page! Why blog you might ask? Why NOW? And why should you, dear cyber browsin’ one, with that ever growing list of shiny new distractions out there ready to tear us away from our busy lives, bother to stop by, sit down, maybe put your feet up for awhile, and take the time to read it? Good questions. Let’s see if I can answer them….
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Without question. Even when I was a small child, from the moment I learned to hold a pencil in my hand and carefully shape letters into words across a crisp white page (and always told, by the way, from that very beginning, what neat penmanship I had…”for a boy”.) . It’s all I dreamed of being someday when I grew up. Not a fireman, like my dad, or a navy seaman, like my brother. Not a teacher, although I admired all the knowledge they seemed to have and all the books full of cool stuff to know they had arranged row by row in their classrooms, and how they always seemed to faintly smell of chalk. Not a doctor (innards, eww!), a policeman (hated uniforms, and don’t get me started on hats), or a lawyer (although at times I excelled at arguing and acting all know it all like, so for a time that lingered as a very close second). In fact, I have a clear memory of standing in front of my Grade 2 class, during a lively class discussion on what it would be like someday in the far off distant future to be an action hero or a circus clown or a rock and roll singer, and yelling “yeah, well when I grow up I’m gonna be a JOURNALIST and report on the news, and along with that I’m gonna be a WRITER too, and write the biggest book you ever saw!” The blank stares, surprised looks, (even, or most especially, from the teachers), and silence were only interrupted by my friend Glen crying “you wanna be a jer-nee-WHA??
Hmmm. So not the most auspicious of debuts indeed. Read More