I have been working on writing a novel this month, as you probably know by now. I have been writing an average of seven pages every day that I sit down to write, which would have certainly yeilded more than the minimum I was shooting for, had I applied myself every day of the month. For me, the project wasn’t originally about just meeting the minimum number of words, but really about wanting to find a way to getmyself started on writing a novel. I have long known that I wanted to write. That I had a certain level of talent at writing well, and that it made me happy to write, and to be able to share that writing with other people. Modern Evil is a lot about having a place to put the things I create, where I feel pressure from myself to always have new stuff online. I always feel that I am disappointing “my audience” if I don’t have new stuff to come look at with regularity. Which is exacly how I want to feel, because it forces me to do the creative things I like to do.
For years I would just hang out in my spare time and literally stare at blank walls. Sometimes thinking to myself, but often at the end of an hour or two of just sitting still, staring, not even watching TV, I would not have developed some clever idea or resolved some question that had troubled or even fleeted across my mind. Just to be able to stop moving, physically, mentally, emotionally, was a relief. I don’t get to do that much anymore. Yoga is close, or at least helps, because after a good hour of Yoga, my mind and heart are clear, and my body is ready to just totally relax.
Then I took up watching a lot of TV, which seems somehow better than staring blankly at walls. A lot of TV. I’ve seen a lot of really good shows as a result. I’ve become emotionally involved with a lot of different characters. (Obviously; I care what happens this week on the series finale of Felicity.) I’ve thought critically about how to write for television, and have become adept an understanding how teleplays are put together. Now, unless I try hard to just enjoy the show, I can see in my mind why the writer wrote something in and where it’s going and can recognise one writer’s style over another. Much more involved than staring at the walls.
What I wasn’t doing enough of was writing. I remember when I was writing new short stories or poems every day or at least every week. I remember getting an idea for a story and being able to hand it off to someone to read the next day. I remember how writing short fiction and getting immediate results used to scare me away from the idea of creating something longer. How long does it take to write a novel? How long until I can hand it to someone and see them smile at the good parts and react with shock to the shocking parts, and perhaps even care what happens to the characters? How long is a book anyway? I knew I wanted to write longer works, and the thought of not knowing when it would be done actually contributed to my giving up writing atogether. For years, I wasn’t writing anything more than the occasional rhymed couplet, and I think it was because I didn’t think I’d be able to finish a novel.
I don’t know how I found the NaNoWriMo site originally. I know that when I saw it, I knew that starting a novel wouldn’t be hard at all if other people were going to be doing the same thing. If other people could start a novel, so could I. I was already writing thousands of words every week for my websites. If I could do that for a novel, I could surely finish it in a month. All of a sudden, then end of the novel was in sight. I could start writing one day and know that within thirty days I would have a novel. Not six months, not three years, not indefinitely. I would have a completed book before summer. With print on demand, I could have a professionally printed and bound copy of my book in my hands before the end of the summer, even allowing twice as long to edit/rewrite the book as I was allowing to write it.
Except that the official NaNoWriMo is in November, and I didn’t want to wait that long. I have plans to be at least trying to be working on either making motion pictures in November or being back in school studying Fine Arts. Neither one of those things allows time to write a novel while working full time. So I decided to try to form my own little community of people who would write a novel. In May. I had six people say they would definitely try, and several others who thought they might give it a shot. As of right now I only have one person left who hasn’t told me outright that they’ve given up on the whole thing, and the other appears to be losing hope. I’m the only one still writing, as far as I know. The community effect that was able to get me started writing; knowing that I was not alone in getting started, in believing that it was actually possible for a novel to be written, is gone. I am on my own.
Still, I am writing. I have written more towards this story than any other I have ever attempted to write. This has to do with my historical fear of starting; I don’t want to start something I’m not going to finish, and I don’t want to start something if I’m not going to do it right. If I don’ finish this book before May is over, I will feel awful. No matter how far I get or whether I know I will be able to finish the novel, when May 31st rolls around, if it isn’t done, I know I will feel bad. I will not give up. This is not impossible. I write faster about blood and sweat and tears and death, and there is only more and more of that as I get past the halfway point in my story. If I can get halfway through the story, it will be much faster to get through the second half, simply by the nature of the story I’m telling, if not because of the deadline I’ll be working under. I will not give up. Even if it’s June 3rd and I have an act or two to of my story remaining to write, I will not give up.
You see, it was always just about getting me started writing again. Even if I set myself unreasonable goals, even if the story doesn’t flow as smoothly as I’d like in some sections, if I’m writing then I’m doing better than I was when I was staring at the walls or watching TV. Every time I set still for a few minutes, or find myself surfing the channel guide looking for something to watch with no specific program in mind, I remind myself that I ought to be working on the novel. Every time I wonder what I’m going to do with this afternoon or that weekend, I remind myself that I ought to be working on a creative project. Get a dozen pages done, or fix something on the website, or sketch out something for a painting. There are even a lot of utilitarian things that I’m falling behind on (not any more than usual because of the novel; I always fall behind on dishes and yardwork) that I could certainly be working on instead. Could be working on right now.
So I’m started writing again. I’ve got writing momentum. Obviously. Look at what I’ve written here. And in the forums lately. And if you could see all the emails I’ve been writing lately… It’s a lot of words. I can sit down at the keyboard here or the typewriter there and words just flow out of me. Writing momentum. I don’t see it stopping at the end of the month, and that’s a good thing. That’s a real life saver. I’m going to go write somplace else now. Or maybe pull that weed I keep seeing out the window. It’s bugging me.