Tomorrow, Thursday, November 1st is a day that will live in infamy!
That’s pretty good. You’re all allowed to quote that if you like. Just remember who to attribute it to.
Certainly not I.
As most of you who read this blog know, since most of you are writers, November is National Novel Writing Month and there is a yearly competition held, the NaNoWriMo which stands for … something, but I’m not sure what because the acronym makes always me think of Mork and Mindy and that sends me off on a tangent of thinking about television shows from the 70s and 60s and how much fun some of those were compared to the horrible tripe that’s currently on the tube and how much I miss some of those great theme songs like The Adamms Family or Gilligan’s Island and I start humming them in my head and it sounds something like hmm hmhmhmhmhmhmhmm hmm hmhmhmhmhmm, and I …
. . . Sorry, but I did warn you.
I’ve never competed in it. In fact, I’ve always pooh-poohed it. The object is to write as many words as you can in the month. The driving principle behind it is that you allow yourself to write crap and to put your internal critic and editor on hold until the end of the competition.
That’s why I’ve always pooh-poohed the idea. I allow myself to write crap every day and I’m damned good at it. I don’t need a special month to do it.
This year, however, I’m joining the fray. No, I’m not joining the official competition; I’m joining a friendly wager among a group of online writer friends. The competition is called the Great Tea Debacle. I’m not sure why, but the winner is sent tea or some other cheap ass prize from all the losers.
I have a few trepidations about the whole concept.
One is I’m not a competitor. Never have been. I just don’t have that fire, that desire to grind someone under my hob nailed boot heels. I remember as a child I used to play baseball and one memorable moment was, while playing right field, I sat down to read my Bazooka Joe comic and the ball rolled right past me. I think they were all pissed at me, but I didn’t care. Bazooka Joe was particularly funny that day. I was happy even if the rest of the team wasn’t. Screw ’em. Let them get their own bubblegum.
That’s not to say, that I haven’t competed aggressively. If I don’t know the person then I have no qualms about grinding their face under my heel and then pointing and laughing. When I’m on a team I take on that mob mentality and like nothing better than to humiliate the foes.
And I hate to lose.
So you would think both of those would combine to make me a fierce, heartless competitor, the kind every American loves.
Hold on, I say, there’s more.
The problems arise when I know the person I’m competing against and if I like them the problem is compounded.
When I know the person and I’m going against them in one-on-one, head-to-head, mano y mano competition and I’m winning, well, let’s give an example.
Many years ago I used to play racquetball. And I was pretty darned good at it, willing to sacrifice my flesh by rebounding off the walls to make any shot. I believe (and please allow me a memory lapse here) that the goal was first one to 21 points was the winner.
The score would often be 16, 17, or more in my favor and around five to them. Now you say, great, finish them off you have the game well in hand.
No. That’s not how it works. I’m winning. I’m killing. While others would strike the final deathblow, I start to feel guilty. I feel sorry for my friend, whom I’m kicking the shit out of. I begin to empathize with them and think how bad I’d feel if I was getting whomped like that.
And then I start to lose.
And many a game of racquetball was won by my friends 21-18.
In other words, winning has never been necessary to stroke my ego. Making my friends feel good has been.
Which brings me to the present. I’m competing against friends. Well, I consider them all friends (except for this one braggart who is claiming to average 50,000 words a week. Her I’d like to grind under my hobnailed boots.). So while they’re all taunting and throwing the smack down, I’m just sitting on the sidelines waiting for the competition to start. I’ll do what I can, slow and steady wins the race, supposedly, and we’ll see what happens.
So that’s my addendum: I’ll do my best, but honestly, my heart isn’t in it. If the ultimate goal wasn’t to have more words on paper for my novel, I probably wouldn’t have entered at all.
P.S. Because of this competition, this blog might be on hiatus for the next 30 days. Please be patient. I might, if I feel the need, offend you all by reposting some ancient Upon Reflection columns that originally appeared in the UWM Times a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
P.P.S. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I said I have a few trepidations and I then proceeded to list only one: I’m not a competitor. Well, pooh to you and your literal, critical mind! Fine. Since you’re staring at me like that. I’m not a fan of tea. I’m in a tea competition and I much prefer a coffee or beer. Go figure.