October 31st is not just Halloween, but it is also the night before November 1st, the first day of National Novel Writing Month. The first year I had heard of NaNoWriMo was 2003, and I spent most of September excited about the prospect of jumping head first into a novel come November. Then I met Carl, my husband, in October, and was so head-over-heels in love by November that writing a novel was the last thing on my mind.
Last November I was in Europe, having just arrived, and as I was isolated and unemployed, NaNoWriMo seemed like the perfect way to spend a month. Yet this time the idea of sitting down to a blank screen terrified me. I was so miserable and unhappy and writing a novel seemed like the last thing I could handle. I didn’t feel competent to handle my own psyche, let alone create new people out of whole cloth and hope to make them believable.
(The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to just write, quality be damned, yet somehow I managed to turn it into an exercise in self-flagellation. I’m unfortunately rather good at self-flagellation.)
So now here I am in 2010, on the night before NaNoWriMo, and am facing my scariest blank page yet. Carl and I have been living apart, on different continents, for two months, and today we finally spoke of our separation and our marriage and our future. And although we are not ready to start sorting out logistics yet, it really is just a matter of time before we separate for good. (I feel like such a coward, avoiding the word divorce.)
And as much as this is mutual and amicable and a long time coming, it really just breaks my heart. I think of our seven years together, and all the joy and love that we’ve had together, and how much optimism and hope we had when we married. I think of all our family and friends who surrounded us with such love at our wedding, and all the support and well-wishes we had, and can’t help but feel like I’ve let them down, let Carl down, let everyone down. We tried so hard, and just couldn’t make it work.
I could write for ages – could write the 50,000 words in a month for NaNoWriMo – and still never say enough of how hard this is, how much I regret the way things turned out.
So here I am on NaNo Eve, and I have no idea what the next steps in my life will be, what words to put on those blank pages. I am separated and unemployed and living with my parents and feel pretty damn lost. But I am the author of my own life, right? I guess I need to just start writing, perfection be damned.