The month of November is unofficially known as National Novel Writing Month, when aspiring writers can commit to writing an entire novel, or 50,000 words, in 30 days.
It’s a daunting task, and I’ve participated on and off for the past 5 or 6 years. One year I even “won,” which really just means I managed to get 50,000 words down on paper in the span of 30 days. I’m not sure what even happened to that draft, or what that particular novel was about, but I’m sure it was crap.
I have files and files of half-written stories, or scenes that have come to me in a moment of inspiration, or more often just 10 or so pages of a story that quickly fizzled out. I’ll start writing, convince myself it’s actually crap, and then quit. Or I’ll start writing, hit a road block where I don’t know what happens next, and then quit. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid, but it turns out it just isn’t as easy as it seemed back then.
I’d kind of given up on the dream, figuring maybe being a published author wasn’t really for me. I’m not that great at grammar, if I’m being honest. Past participle? No idea what that is. “Sally and me” versus “Sally and I?” Your guess is as good as mine which one is correct. I have no idea if anything I’ve ever written is any good, because I don’t often share it. Obviously what I write here can be read by anyone that stumbles across this blog, but this is all carefully edited true stories. There’s nothing here that was born out of my own imagination. I did have a short story published online once. I was damn proud of it, too. I shared that link with everyone. After it was chosen and published. The fact that a stranger had read it and validated it made it okay to share with people I knew. I can’t imagine myself ever sharing something I’ve written with friends or family without first getting that outside validation. I don’t know why, it just feels like I would be exposing too much of myself.
I don’t even tell people when I am writing. The only one who knows I’m working on this novel right now is my husband. He keeps asking me how my novel is coming and I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not. I think he’s being genuine, but I think he’s also making a point to show how supportive he is of my hobbies, whereas I constantly act like his hobbies cause me physical pain. (To be fair, his biggest hobby is snowboarding, which does indeed cause me physical pain when I do it.)
The idea for this novel, hand to God, came to me in a dream. How corny is that? Or at least, a scene did. I wrote that scene down. Then I worked it into another idea for a book I’d had rolling around in my brain for years. I scoured back through old drafts I had started and abandoned, picking up ideas to incorporate. I messed around with the characters a little bit, writing a few scenes for them just to see how they felt. It felt good, I thought I might actually have something this time.
I’ve been planning for this novel for a few months now. I don’t think I’ve ever done this much planning before. I read a ton of articles about how to plan a book, and plot structure. I did a bunch of character building exercises. I found some of it helpful, and some of it not so much. I’ll probably get into that in another post once all is said and done.
I’ve already blown my word goal for the week out of the water and it’s only day 3. Usually by this point I’m struggling hard and resort to just jumping ahead to a scene I think will be more fun to write and leaving out anything in between. This time, I’ve just been writing non-stop. Is all of it good? No, I’m sure it’s not. But I am so damn excited to write this thing. I have the same feeling about writing this book as I do when I’m reading a good book. I can’t wait to get back to it. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. And I already know what happens next! Having the bare bones figured out for a scene and then having it actually all come together right before your very eyes? Phew, what a rush. I’m very, very into this book and I hope the momentum keeps up. Pulling myself away from it has been hard. Forcing myself to do anything other than write has been hard. I dreamt about the damn book characters last night, that’s how deep I’ve gotten into this. I walk around in a daze because my brain is still in this novel, thinking about what’s going to happen next.
I don’t know, maybe this will turn into something great and maybe it won’t but I’m having a damn good time writing it so far and it feels really, really good to be back at it.