Earlier this week I hated on National Novel Writing Month, and while none of the opinions I outlined then have changed, I realized that there is one good thing I’ve taken from it.
In 2007, the last time I attempted it, the story I was working on involved the very Murakami-esque plot device of a missing woman being searched for by a man who had no business looking for her, aided by a talking dog.
Like I said, I clearly love Murakami. I’ll also sue if I see that idea used.
So yeah, not exactly the greatest idea in the world, but maybe not the worst, and I had decent momentum until about midway through the month.
I did, however, have one problem. I didn’t know where the woman was. I started thinking maybe she shouldn’t be found, but that was just laziness on my part, an attempt to cover for my own inferiorities.
I’ve always been a bit of a nightwalker and one night at around 3.00 a.m. I was brushing my teeth before bed, thinking about where this woman could be, and for the first time in my life, maybe the only time, I found her. It was like being jabbed by a cattle prod, my heartrate jumped because maybe for the first time in my life, I knew I’d had a good idea, something I wasn’t aping from one of my favourite authors. I trotted into the spare room we were using for an office with the toothbrush hanging from my mouth and jotted the point onto a whiteboard. I stood there looking at it, foamy slobber dripping down my chin, thinking about how I would get there, when something else popped into my head, just a phrase. I had no use for it at the time, but I wrote it on the whiteboard too, just in case I ever found a use for it.
That phrase? Poetry for gravediggers.