When I first found out I was going to be unemployed for most of October and all of November (not to mention December, when I’ll be home in the States!!), I immediately knew I had to set some kind of goal for myself. There was no way I could let that kind of time go to waste. (Not that I’m not also resting and investing in relationships and whatnot, too…) And then I found out that November is apparently “National Novel Writing Month” and people do this crazy thing where they write 50,000-word novels in one month. It didn’t take long to put two and two together.
I have always had a secret desire to write novels.
As a little girl, I gobbled up books. I would lose myself in the stories, and I had a particular desire to read the “classics.” (One of my all-time favorite books is Crime and Punishment, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.) I sometimes enjoyed lighter reading as well, but I always judged it and looked down on it, no matter how much I enjoyed the story. I dreamed of being a writer who wrote really well. (I mean what is the point of doing anything if you don’t do it excellently?)
But I never thought I could. Clearly I just wasn’t born with that kind of genius.
In second grade, I got stumped during writing class trying to figure out how to make something happen in my story. Over a decade later, in a short story writing class in college, I struggled with the exact same issue. I didn’t know how to make things happen!
I could delve into the minds of the characters somewhat and write interesting essays about isolated events of my life, but my plots felt contrived. Or non-existent. Even when I did come up with ideas, the concepts of pacing and tension eluded me. I had no idea how to string events together.
So while I wrote a ton of poetry (mostly for the purpose of curing angst) and sometimes wrote scenes of stories or even attempted short stories, the idea of writing a novel just seemed way too big a feat to even attempt. Why pour in the huge amount of hours, blood, and sweat such an endeavor would undoubtedly require if I knew the result would be less than mediocre?
Well, I don’t know what has come over me, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to do this crazy novel writing in a month thing.
Actually, I do kind of know what has come over me. It’s not just random, uncontrolled boldness or some kind of sadistic desire to punish myself. I discovered a few months ago that the plotting skills I always lacked, which I had always believed were innate, are actually learnable!
In preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’ve been reading two books about writing: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and they have been unlocking EVERYTHING for me! And I have to give credit to this blog for writers I started following several month’s ago (Kristen Lamb’s blog) that has equipped and inspired me in SO many ways and where I found out about these books.
Sometimes I do get a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the task I am attempting. But what I’ve been telling myself is that the whole point of this is to grow as a writer. But ALSO, as I delve into my characters’ lives and the intricacies of my story, I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot. And who knows, maybe I’ll eventually produce something readable out of it! (Hopefully all while keeping my grip on reality and not letting myself get too consumed by my fictional world…)
Here’s to a new adventure and the persistence to see it through!