Writing about writing – Or “This post of so meta!’
You probably wont see my writing here next month. I am participating, for the second time, in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It is a crazy challenge, for masochistic writers, to write a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November.
I completed my first NaNoWriMo challenge five years ago when I wrote a crappy sci-fi novel, Nine Lives. It was crappy because averaging 2500 words a day is not how I do my best writing. When I was finished I was glad. I celebrated. But I never wanted to look at Nine Lives again. It was just too much of a
good crappy thing.
I never thought I would do NaNoWriMo again. But I have hardly worked on my novel Dream Girl since being diagnosed with breast cancer last November. I feel like NaNoWriMo will fulfill a twofold purpose of getting me writing again and claiming time to write.
I have wanted to be a writer pretty much my whole life. (I also wanted to be a librarian and criminologist for the FBI, but writing is my first and longest love.) When I was 11 my mother got me a voice recorder so I could keep track of the stories I was constantly coming up with. Not that she thought I was going to be a writer. No, she thought I was probably going to die young, hit by a car while trying to cross the street, because I never paid attention and lived “with my head in a fantasy world.”
In my twenties I came up with lots of novel ideas, mostly supernatural themes. One, about three girls with magical powers, would eventually morph into Dream Girl. Back then I was hanging out with some comic book writers and illustrators and I even started collaborating with a comic book artist on Dream Girl. She drew some pictures of what she thought my characters looked like. That was when I realized that I am not so good at collaborating.
When my daughter was 2-ish I spent 10 days working on our friend’s ship ranch, it was there that I came up with the “Dream” part of Dream Girl. I knew I was on to something. Years and years went by while I raised my daughter and started homeschooling her. I thought about Dream Girl all the time but I didn’t feel like I could really write it.
A few years ago I started doing some collaborative writing with some friends I was playing role-playing games with. Starting writing again really energized me. I was so excited and looked forward to it everyday. My co-writers gave me good feedback, which got me past some of my insecurities. That was when I realized I could collaborate, as long as nobody draws my characters totally wrong.
All that time, since before my daughter was born, I have been thinking about my book. In that time it has grown into a huge complicated tome, chock full of things that excite and scare me. When I finally sat down to start writing it, in 2009, I realized that I had made it so complicated that I now had to do a ton of research to write it realistically. Luckily, I think researching is awesome. (Researcher is another job I think I would be suited for.)
Also, I kind of love myself a well-crafted sentence. My daughter and I sometimes stop what we are reading just to share a particularly excellent sentence with one another. We collect them. When I am writing I am sometimes inspired to craft a beautiful sentence or phrase. When I do it just makes my day. This might come from spending a lot of time away from my computer thinking about my book, basically writing it in my head, looking at it from all sides and listening for the music or poetry in it.
All of this is to say that I am not a very fast novel writer. My style is thoughtful and, at times, deliberate. NaNoWriMo is a shock to my writing system. Once November starts there is no time for research, no time to sit and ponder a beautiful sentence, possibly no time to make dinner and, most likely, no time to blog. If I do come up for air, I will probably only have something short. Like a pronoun.
I wont be working on Dream Girl for NaNoWriMo but a ghost story instead, which tells the back story of a character that inhabits my Dream Girl World.