Pep Talk from Tupelo Hassman

Screw romance, fall in love. That’s what I say. I know we’ve been living the dream, dishes piling up alongside take-out boxes, ink staining our footie-pajama-business-leisure-suits, birds nesting in our dirty hair who are writing their own NaNo-novels, the post-NaNo to-do list filling up with all those things we righteously didn’t have time for:

Post-NaNo To-Do List
1. Alphabetize socks
2. Find agent for hair birds

And when we weren’t hammering away on our word counts we were only scouring Google Maps to figure out which arrondissement we’ll live in as ex-pats.

We were dreaming of ex-patriating not only from the U.S., but from the life of the non-writer that is largely where most of us live the rest of the year. It’s oh so romantic, like any fling.

But here’s what I’m thinking… and since words like “priorities” and “balance” cause my muse to have a not-tonight-honey headache, and perhaps yours feels the same, I’m going to code them here so that things stay sexy. What I’m thinking is, this past month doesn’t have to be a fling, this could be the real thing, baby. November doesn’t have to be the only month of the year that we have our schmiorities straight–and living our creative lives is a top schmiority. I’m not saying we have to, heaven forbid, bring perfect schmalance to our lives, but: since November is the month we’re living the life we want to live those other beige months of the year, why are we planning on participating in our own creative subjugation?

What I’m about to say is NaNo-sacrilegious, please don’t shoot me (with emails, though do say ‘hi’!)… go a little easy on the squalor. We can’t do The Last Tango in Paris with our muse 24/7, we have to eat, but neither do we have to starve that hot little number we call our creative selves for the other eleven months of the year and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to see how taking it to the next level, you know, living together, might look. If we’re complete piggies, this will never seem like a good idea.

For the record, I’m not a neat freak. I find cleaning up after myself a dire exercise. I consider it inhumane that much of our lives is made up of basically moving things from one place to another, manipulating their shapes as we do (also known as “laundry” and “dishes,” or, rather, schmaundry and schmishes). But I believe we can seek and then sustain an atmosphere that allows us to be creative people – even writing, creative people – all the time, any time we’d like, without destroying our jobs, relationships, or the kitchen sink.

If this sounds impossible, let me recommend an exercise. Remember the White Queen who dutifully imagines impossible things for a full 30 minutes a day? I’m an acolyte of hers. When I’m not in my writing cubby, you can usually find me prying impossible things out of others and myself, measuring their wingspans, and taking them back to my cubby where I pin these impossible things to a board. It’s a bit Silence of the Lambs, but whatever, it’s me.

I’ve been doing this for a while and I have to wear shoes in the cubby now because the floor is so littered with bent and broken pins from when the impossible things have broken free. And they always break free, I have exquisite taste in impossible things, Clarice. (Slurpy noise.)

I started collecting the pins and I’m making a crown out of them to wear for when I’m an old woman and I spend my days wandering about, digging my chin into the shoulders of youngsters playing at croquet and writing, and remind them to practice believing in the impossible. Since the chances are more than fair that I’m older than you, that is probably my chin you feel in your shoulder.

I believe that you and I can do the dishes and write 50,000 words and/or that we can find it less important that the dishes get done than the writing, even when November is over, even without the free pass of NaNo. I’m talking all year-round, and so, I’m pinning this impossible thing to my board.

Sometime around February, after we’ve cleaned up the squalor from NaNo, I’ll find new pins on my floor because this impossible thing will have flown off into the blue sky of reality. As I’m adding its bent pins to my crown we’ll be unlocking our muses again for some unsupervised conjugal visits that will continue throughout the year. We’ll put a ring on it.

Love your writing self, get it on, and while you’re doing that, think about how you can keep the kitchen clean enough to keep that love simmering all year, until it’s time to turn up the heat next November. You deserve to create, the world requires that you do this in order to keep itself in schmalance, so go heavy on the love by not making a mess it will take you until October 31, 2013 to clean up–except for that glorious mess you’re making on the page.


Read more author pep talks.