So I ended up not flaking out, and now here I am, seven days into NaNoWriMo. Things are going pretty well--I'm consistently about a half-day behind, which is nothing to my inner jaded old-fart cheerleader. You should have seen the great finishing flood of '05! Six thousand words a day! In the snow, uphill both ways! I will say, though, that NaNo is nothing if not an exercise in self-awareness, and not always in the good way.
First of all, my capacity for wasting time is, what's the word? Oh: "staggering." I can kill a potentially useful chunk of hours without breaking a sweat. I attempt to cast on warm winter garments with the yarn I bought recently, which seems not to want to be much of anything. I compose those long, newsy e-mails I've been meaning to get around to. I watch reruns of 30 Rock (Top-secret note to James: You're right. This season is funny. "I have twelve grand in checking." "...are you an immigrant?"). I spend time with Winner of the National Book Award, which is dark and hilarious and makes me not want to stop reading. I suspect that I joined Facebook (a new development; find me and friend me if you haven't already!) solely for the purpose of not working on my novel. I am, in a word, amazing...at not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm specially gifted.
Second, I have learned that it is possible for me to fall asleep while typing. You know how when you're reading in bed, and it's kind of dim and you're warm and suddenly it's 3 a.m. and your bedside light is still on? Apparently this happens to me when I'm sitting up and the lights are on and I'm, like, in the middle of a sentence. I'm writing along, sailing through my word count, and...suddenly the last three lines make absolutely no sense. I have novel narcolepsy. Somebody should hold a telethon for me.
I do kind of like my novel so far, though. Writing without a net means that my novel will probably have a total lack of narrative/symbolic structure, which will break my heart when I try to re-read it, but it also means that I can have a kind of zero-tolerance policy towards boredom. It's a road novel of sorts, so when I stop knowing or caring what happens in one scene, I can just take my characters somewhere else and say, "And then THIS happens ('Ghosts!' 'Bible salesmen!' 'Self-help books!')!" I see that this is how all those over-quirky, self-indulgent first novels get written: it's all about things that are funny and endearing in the moment, because all you really want to be is funny and endearing. I am hoping that this translates to some kind of consistent voice over the course of the 50,000 words, but...I'm not counting on it. That's what NaNoEdMo (which apparently some people actually do, though I frankly can't imagine who) is for.
Any field reports from my fellow-novelists out there?