Monday, December 14, 2009

Aspiring Novelist

Last November while reading a now defunct blog (Pussy Scratch), I read for the first time about NaNoWriMo. The blog’s author was participating in NaNoWriMo but that was about all that was said. Curious to know exactly what NaNoWriMo was, I checked out their website.

National Novel Writing Month kicks off at midnight on November 1 and wraps up at midnight on November 30. Each participant is trying to write a short fictional novel of 50,000 words in those 30 days. The aspiring novelist can have a storyline fulminating in the brain as well as some character outlines, but the actual writing cannot begin until the stroke of midnight on November 1. I thought that it would be fun, but since I didn’t find out about it until the month and the contest were well underway, I decided to wait for the 2009 competition. I thought about my novel all year long.

I was so excited to begin that I stayed up until midnight to get a good start on the entire thing. I knew that it would be hard since I don’t really have time to get anything done until after 9pm, but I was determined to make this work. Besides, I did the math, and knew that I would need to write 1667 words per day to meet the 50K goal by the end of the month. That’s only 835 words per hour for two hours per night. No big deal since I can type 80 words per minute meaning I could technically reach my daily word count in about 30 minutes.

As usual, I failed to account for all of the scenarios that go along with writing since I haven’t really done any except for training materials, process documentation, and newsletter updates for years. I don’t remember the last time I wrote something of fiction (high school?), so I thought that getting a story to flow out of my regimented and orderly brain, but that part actually came easier than I had ever imagined. I AM a creative person after all.

I can say now that the whole thing sounds easier than it really is. I wrote at night. I wrote on my lunch break. I wrote on the bus. I wrote every chance I could get. I decided early on to write about something that I was familiar with or that someone I knew could eventually help me with. I did absolutely no fact checking because that’s what I’m going to use my experts for. I made up names of towns and streets and places knowing that I could edit it later.
They don’t know it yet, but so far my experts will be Holly (for facts about Kansas), Jake (for facts about Iraq and the USMC), and Massoud (for facts about Iraq).

So, I finished the 50K words with just 30 minutes to spare on November 30 – just enough time to log into the NaNoWriMo site and input my novel into the word counter. On about day 20, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough of a story to meet the word count goal, but at the end, I didn’t have enough time to finish my story! My two main characters are just now getting to THE MOMENT where their plan kicks into action. Then, I have to guide them through the execution of the plan and the happily-ever-after. If I continue in the same manner as I have been going, I will need another 30-50K words to really make the story complete.

The prize of the “contest” is simply satisfaction in completing the challenge. There is no winner of best story or blue ribbon for most original storyline (which mine would totally win, I’m sure…). It’s just a sense of pride that will allow the participant to hold his or her head high. Therefore, I am a winner! However, if the author determines that story is really good, s/he can try to get it published. I think that my story is pretty darn good even though it isn’t completed yet. When I say that I need 30-50K more to finish the story, I mean I would need that amount to finish it in its rough format. If I seriously considered submitting it to a publisher, I would need to really flesh out several parts of it because they are very lean as is. Then, I would need to have it edited.

Something that I want to do? Maybe. It’s worth a shot. I wouldn’t be out anything except for the time and energy that I’ve spent. It does make me realize why writers take so long to get things done. There is just a lot to do in order to create a story that is worth the reader’s time. I definitely have a new appreciation for the author of every fictional book that I’ve ever read! I say that the storyline was easier for me than I expected, but that is NOT to say that the whole thing was easy.

So, will I continue my story and see where it takes me? Perhaps. But, there may be something more practical on the horizon for the next 18 months. I’ll hopefully know more about that by the end of this week. In the mean time, I’m writing holiday cards, baking banana bread, re-building my closet, singing Christmas carols with our adorable little boys, trying to find the time to upload pictures to my computer, potty training, and trying to stay afloat in this ridiculous economy. At least, that’s what I’m doing THIS week!

1 comment:

piecesofgray said...

All in all, it seems you're swimming in blessings. But I hope 2010 brings you even more love & peace - and maybe a great job for Bub!