On this night, October 31st, All Hallow’s Eve, as the wind shrieks through the trees outside my window and the dogs huddle under the couch, barking at suspicious noises buried in the night, I find myself facing the most terrifying, scarifying, soul-wrenching sight known to man: a blank page.
In one hour National Novel Writing Month begins, and I’ve done nothing to prepare other than saying “hey, I think I’ll do it again this year.”
Like the other 75,000 people who have taken on this self-inflicted madness this year, I will be attempting to write a 50,000 word in 30 days. Not necessarily good words, mind you, we know our limits. But I will be trying for some sort of narrative order. While we are forbidden by the entirely voluntary rules of NaNoWriMo to begin before midnight tonight, we can make notes, decide on plots, write outlines, create characters, and otherwise prepare ourselves for the month-long ordeal.
Except this year I didn’t. Not a word. I know vaguely what the idea will be, but I haven’t named my heroes or chosen a locale or even really thought much about the ending. Or the middle. Or that tricky part at the beginning. Critics might call me “unprepared” or “lazy.” I prefer to think of myself as “keeping it pure.”
The fear is a palpable one, and it isn’t going away no matter how much I play Solitaire. It can’t be writer’s block, there’s nothing there to block. Maybe the blank page on the monitor’s getting to me (leukophobia, the fear of the color white). Maybe it’s a fear of failure (atychiphobia). Could be logophobia (fear of words) or even the fear of long words (which is, amusingly enough, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, proving that even psychologists have sense of humor).
I could be suffering from graphophobia, the fear of writing. Possibly centophobia, the fear of new ideas, or cyberphobia, the fear of working on computers, although at this stage that would have to be late onset cyberphobia. I could be exhibiting the signs of bibliophobia, the fear of books, subconscious dreading what I have yet to complete, or mythophobia, the fear of stories. I would say it’s catagelophobia, the fear of being ridiculed, but I’m numb to that by now.
But you know, I’m feeling better about this. My novel will still be a twelve-car pileup of a book, but at least I’ve reminded myself that thanks to high school writing assignment training (and the Internet) I can pad out any writing assignment as long as I need to.
Even a blog entry.