So November 1st was the kick-off of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where writers come together virtually and in coffee houses and wherever else to start, pick-up, or finish a novel. The goal is to have 50,000 words by November 30th. Well I knew going in there was no way in hell I would ever be able to meet that goal. I may be a dreamer but I’m also a realist when it comes to knowing my own strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve been writing poetry since I was in grade school. Short stories began to formulate in my repertoire soon after. I was the queen of scribbling it all down on a piece of notebook paper in one fury of creative inspiration/explosion. Even though I dreamed of being the next great American author I did not have the patience, focus, or commitment to sit down and hammer out pages and pages of a coherent novel. And re-writes? Forget it. When I was done I was done.
The trip that started it all.
I wrote for a community newspaper for a few years and even wrote and self-published a children’s book. All of these endeavors I am very proud of. But I’ve always been in awe of those that can write an entire novel. This has been on my bucket list since I was fifteen and actually started a novel after a life-altering trip to Italy. I started the thing three times and haven’t touched it in ten years.
Flash-forward to my late thirties and yet another life-altering experience leads me to start another novel. This time I was for real. Got an editor and everything. I was scared of the process of writing dialogue. Didn’t think it was my thing. But after my editor told me to visualize the scene in my mind like a movie, I ended up being ok at it. So I worked on it, some days for hours, some days for ten minutes. Some days I didn’t sit at the computer at all. This went on for a year and I had nine chapters and a few later scenes diligently hammered onto Word. I was compelled to tell this story and I thought about it on my bike rides, while brushing my teeth, and in my nightly dreams.
What HAVE you been typing all this time?
Then I took a month or so hiatus when the dreams became disturbing. I started this blog, which was another writing venture I’d desired for a while. And wow have I been enjoying it– the writing, the thinking about the writing, the reading and connecting with other bloggers, the taking of photographs and editing them for my posts, the feedback from friends and strangers, the laugh-out-loud moments and those that grab the heart and twist it. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover this incredible, unfastened world.
But the poor little novel sat untouched, wondering why it was being neglected. Then came NaNoWriMo and I decided that was a sign to get it back out again. November 1st came and even though I didn’t get to the computer until 9pm I finished one chapter and started another. Yay! I was back in the novel-writing game again. Each day I took time, no matter how hectic it was around the house, to sit and work on my novel. I did what was suggested: I didn’t go over and over what I’d written like usual. I just wrote. I didn’t think about perfection or even bang my head on the desk. I just wrote. I thought, “I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna write every single day of this month no matter what.” Well then came day seven.
Even God took a day of rest on day seven. In my defense I had the opportunity to spend the day with a dear, old friend. By the time I got back home and had dinner with my family I was exhausted. I figured skipping one day was no big deal. But then I’ve skipped every day since then. In my defense I have written 3,353 words including this post on this blog during that time. I had some posts I really wanted to write and publish. The novel was already starting to feel like work. It was drudgery and it wasn’t calling to me. I figured why push it just to get some sort of a word count or because I think I have to do this lest the gods of NaNoWriMo shake their heads in disapproval. I didn’t want to go crazy like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
So here it is, almost the middle of the month. But I am not giving up! Hell, I might even write some in my novel this afternoon. I’m just being honest about my journey and I don’t feel bad about it. NaNoWriMo got me started on it again– got me over that hump. I do love the story I’m now struggling a bit to tell. Perhaps one day I’ll even revisit that Italian tale. My short pieces are a speed boat; my novel a slow-chugging ship. Either way, I get to look out and see golden sunsets over a tranquil sea, with a crew of passengers sharing the voyage with me.