Sunday, November 29
What is it like to write a 50,000 word novel in a month? Time consuming, brain numbing and distracting. I put everything on hold and spent 2 to 4 hours a day writing in long hand. The rest of the time was spent getting errands done- you know boring stuff like paying bills and doing laundry- and thinking. To most people it might look like goofing off but even while doing the dishes, stretching, or raking leaves I was composing. I took breaks to do something physical so I didn’t turn into a complete slug. It was time needed to download ideas about plot, dialogue, narrative, sequence of events essential to writing.
Or avoiding writing. Like many writers, I normally spend as much time and energy avoiding writing as doing it. While the characters have something new to say, my ego is all too predictable. “This sucks. It’s not good enough. I have no idea what I’m doing. Nobody will like it. Why bother.” Having a tight deadline like the NaNoWriMo contest is a good way to get that inner critic to SHUT UP.
I learned more about writing in the last month than any class or book. I learned that I could discipline myself to write every day when I had a specific goal to reach. When caught up in the frenzy of the hunt, there’s no stopping me. I learned that writing truly makes me happy and my depression appeared as only a small dark cloud on the distant horizon during the project. It was liberating, exciting and hard work. I loved every minute of it.
What made this story more accessible to me was that the characters were based, very loosely, on people I knew. In the process I discovered things about them and myself I never knew before. When I first conceived of the novel twenty five years ago I knew I couldn’t write it then because I was too close to the subject. It’s time has come, now that I have gained enough distance and maturity to view that history without getting emotionally tangled up in it.
Writing a novel is like building a house. The story idea is the foundation and the 50,000 words are the building material used for the foundation and rough framing. Of course I’m building from scratch with a blueprint roughed out on a dinner napkin but hey, if I can build a tea house by making it up as I go along, a novel is easy by comparison.
I want to thank everyone who encouraged me to keep going and especially to KC Anton for suggesting I enter it in the first place. Please feel free to help me continue my happiness with more writing suggestions.