October 28, 2013
A Novel Idea
So, I've gone and done it. I've signed up for NaNoWriMo, which serves as a catchy and much shorter way of saying National Novel Writing Month. For the month of November I must, if I am to achieve my goal of writing 50,000 words, write an average of 1666 words per day. I have registered with the website, written my novel-to-be's summary and provided an excerpt. I have subscribed to the Facebook page and disregarded anything to do with Twitter. I don't do Twitter. This coming Friday, day one, I will take a deep breath, trust in the process, and dive in to a solid month of typing out the story that has been building in my mind for over a year.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few years ago at a writing workshop. At the time I had no concrete ideas for a novel and shelved the idea until now. I wrote my first novel years ago after the idea for it was inspired by a painting I had done a few years before. Over a few weeks I wrote the entire thing in long hand when my kids were napping and then typed it out, editing as I went, over the next year. I tried to get it published but gave up after a while when I took to heart a couple of friends' opinion that the novel had a point of view problem. The thing is, when I read the novel again I enjoy it, even though I know it has its faults - a fact which encourages me to try writing another one.
A couple of weeks ago, when I announced my plans to my husband and daughters one of them said, "That's okay, we're used to being ignored." I am shamelessly guilty as charged. I have become quite good at ignoring everything going on around me when I am in the writing zone. For years I have been the butt of many family jokes starting with something like, "Have you ever noticed that when Mom is writing and you ask her a question, that when she finally answers you it's always, 'Mm?' I think, in some ways, I have had to fight for my right to write, mostly with myself. I only started taking myself seriously as a writer a couple of years ago, even though I have been writing since 1996. I finally had to accept the simple fact that 'writers write' and that is that. The more I write, the more seriously I take myself as a writer, and the more seriously my family takes me as one. We all now accept that writing is simply something that I have to do.
If I am already writing regularly, why take part in NaNoWriMo? Because I see it as both an opportunity and a do-able challenge. I have a novel concept ready and waiting, and if I do not make time to work on it and get the basic words down, it will not be a priority. So many other things in my life are vying for priority and notice, but for a time I have chosen to shove these aside for a couple of hours per day. I do not see my participation in the event as really any different than my husband's training for his 100 mile race back in July. We all supported him as he ate, drank and slept everything-to-do-with-cycling in preparation for his event, and in the end he was very successful and happy with his results, finishing somewhere in the front-middle of the pack. I'm hoping to feel the same way at the end of November. I realize that what I end up with may very well be 50,000 words of drivel, but it's a risk I am willing to take. What I am hoping for is what writer Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird affectionately calls 'a shitty first draft,' which may just be enough to work with to make a better second draft...and third draft...
Wish me luck?!
P.S. I'm not sure how the event will effect my blogging for the next month. I'm not making any decisions about that right now. I'll just see how it goes.