A massive novel-writing challenge. I had just landed in Freeport and had no Green Card and no friends and no life, and one day I had a Skype conversation with my Buddhist teacher, Gen Kelsang Tonglam. He had asked me what I was up to, and I told him that I was basically doing nothing, but had an inexplicable urge to write a novel.
He pulled the most amazing thing out of the ether: The National Novel Writing Month. Some mad, wonderfully creative nuts out in San Francisco had decided to engage hundreds of thousands of people all at once, and dare them to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
It was a hit. There was something about joining this vast clan of fellow writers, and having this communal goal - a number of words. And the rules were simple: no edits as you write. You're not even allowed to read the stuff. No, you just have to sit down at your desk / laptop / bench / kitchen table everyday and knock out a couple of thousand words. It can be drivel. It can be nonsense. It doesn't matter. Just write. Just create. Just produce.
Man, it was liberating.
Not only because I had a holy monk telling me to do it, so it wierdly became almost like a practice, but it was the fact that suddenly quality didn't matter anymore. Suddenly it was only about the act of writing. The dancing of fingers. The movement and music of thought striking keys. The flow. The adventure. Just keeping up with the fingers and allowing the deep recesses of the imagination to take the lead. It became its own force. I just swam with it.
I came away with a little over 50,000 words. I still haven't done very much with that manuscript. But it exists. And this year, I think I'm going to do it again. Except this time around, instead of it being 50,000 words of fairly plot-less drivel from my inner being, it will perhaps be a story. A real story. With characters and magic and narrative.
Three days to go...