November is almost over so just about now the sense of panic has slowly but surely descended among many participants of NaNoWriMo. I should count myself as one of those “panicked masses” but I plan on panicking the good old fashioned American way—putting myself into food comma during Thanksgiving while trying to navigate the landmine that is my family gathering.
If you are like me who lives in perennial optimism (or “denial” as a cynic might call it) here are some tips I have made for myself (P.S. I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo until this year so I know nothing of value so follow this none tips at your peril):
1. Drink like the literary greats to help you get through writing. Ernest Hemingway, for instance was known for his appetite towards alcoholic beverages, and look at the marvelous body of work he produced. In my extensive internet research (and we all know the internet does not lie), Hemingway’s favorite drink was mojito. I can’t argue with that. Have you tried a pomegranate mojito? If not, try it. Who knows you might find the idea for the next “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”
2. Eat a copious amount of chocolates. This just makes sense. Aside from the scientifically proven benefits of chocolate, it tastes good. Dark chocolate, semi-sweet, white, with nuts, no nuts, with dried fruits, no dried fruits, there’s a thousand combinations out there. Why do you think Marie Antoinette famously said, “Let them eat cake?” Because she was saving the chocolates for herself. Too bad Marie Antoinette did not know her audience (a very important tip for writers, by the way, “know your readers”) and she said the wrong thing. Bitch needed a lesson in diplomacy.
3. Do not write in a coffee shop. There are not many literary greats out there who wrote their great novel in a coffee shop, unless it served absinthe (Hello, Mr. Oscar Wilde). So unless the coffee shop serves something stronger (whatever happened to Starbucks serving alcohol?), I’d stay at home and drink coffee there instead. You would never have caught Thomas Hardy (not to be confused by the very hot and very much alive Tom Hardy) at a coffee shop, lugging his quill and ink (or was it a typewriter) would you?
4. Do read other authors’ works and side-eye them. No one, in my opinion, did this better than Charlotte Bronte’s take of Jane Austen, who at the time had already made a success of Pride and Prejudice. Bronte had written “Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless woman), if this is heresy–I cannot help it.” As my friend loves to say “Girl shit is the best shit.” But I’d like to add to that “White (dead), upper class girl shit is the best shit.” Unfortunately, by the time Bronte made this assessment, Jane Austen has long been dead. (As a side note: I am side-eyeing Charlotte here–how could she not have read Pride and Prejudice decades after it was first published?) So learn from Bronte, and shit on other authors while they’re still around to hear about it. It’s more fun that way watching how the other writer will react. It’s just mean to mean girl someone who can’t fight back.
5. Keep your identity a mystery. Really, no one wants to know who you are. People are just interested in what or who they think you are. Do you know Mary Ann Evans? Rings a bell, I’m sure but few people know her. But people know George Eliot. Not only did Ms. Evans used a pen name, she chose a man’s pen name. Let’s face it, the 1800’s were not kind to women writers, even though a woman ruled half of the world with the vast English empire. Mary Ann was in good company, Mary Shelley also did not reveal her identity when she published Frankenstein’s Monster. As an aside, I actually don’t know if Mary Ann kept her identity a secret because of the challenges of getting a woman published or because she had a rather, um, colorful personal life. She was after all in an open relationship with the married George Lewes, the literary critic who sang praises of Jane Austen works to Charlotte Bronte which prompted Charlotte to read Pride and Prejudice. I would have sincerely liked to be a house maid during these times just to listen in on how these literary giants talked about each other.