I decided about a month ago (after my husband, running across the website himself and considering the concept brilliant, signed me up and gave me the news afterwards) that I would officially subscribe myself to the NaNoWriMo “Novel in November” writing endeavor. I was, that sunny, blue-skyed day, extremely into the idea (I was also elated that he thought me able to do such a thing — write a novel in a month? me, an amateur blogger and long-time, private journalist?). It seemed like a good plan to have two, grand stakes (November 1st and November 30th) creating the boundaries and deciding the time border in which I, and other participants, would write my first official Novel. (It’s probably grammatically incorrect to capitalize the n in Novel but it is such a sacred, weighty, honor-bearing title that I feel it is casually proper to do so). Now, a month later and with 14 days before the starting point,
I am terrified.
I feel incompetent, idea-less, uncreative, uninteresting, and clueless – like I have no real-life experiences to draw from or close resources to pull from – like my fingernails are painfully jammed up with writer’s block, like the small, amazing, God-given writing center in my brain is blinking red — it isn’t ready, it isn’t able, it can’t.
I’m coaching myself. During the day (the slow moments that afford themselves at work), I pull up “tips for an amateur novelist” pages and devour all information available to me. I am receptive and, I hope, retaining what I read. Before falling asleep at night, I lay awake, half-heartedly constructing a plot — half-heartedly because I am so hesitant and scared to settle on one idea, one protagonist, to name her (or will it be “him?”), to attribute to her feelings and personality and dreams and goals and to submerse her into conflict (and where is she, by the way? North America? Could I well-describe any other part of the world, considering I have no experience in it? Is she (or he) a modern girl (or boy) of the 21st century, or could I possibly pull off one of those romantic, classical, 1800s novels – the ones I so deeply admire and would wish to emulate?). But six (or maybe seven) hours later I wake up and an idea is warmly present with me: “this! I need to include this sentence in the first paragraph.” “THIS has to be the title; I will center everything else around it and make it work.” “The story has to end this way; it will correspond well with the beginning of the novel” and so forth. Revelations, inspirations. Small encouragements that I’m on my way.
So far, I gladly report that I have a tentative title, first paragraph and final paragraph all calculated in my mind (nothing on paper, mind you; it would break NaNoWriMo’s official rules to begin writing before 12:01 AM on November 1st).
If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, here is a basic synopsis.
It is a writing endeavor that takes place annually, during the month of November. Participants from all over the world (it’s free) compose, from start to finish, an original, 50,000 word novel. It (pretty much) has to be fiction. If you finish, you win (you don’t really win anything – but you receive the overwhelming satisfaction of knowing that you DID it! — plus, bragging rights are yours forever).
It is good to have a goal, and good to know that you have other writers struggling, crying and plowing through with you (there are local NaNoWriMo “support” groups ((it isn’t weird like that)) that meet to encourage eachother through the experience and share ideas; find one near you and more information at NaNoWriMo.org). I’ll be meeting up with the Birmingham crew sometime later on this month (I’ve heard that we’re to have a Barnes and Noble party).
I’m a first timer, I’m freaked, and I’m also excited beyond comprehension.
Subscribing and committing yourself to something you thought you could never do is thrilling and empowering.
Thanks for believing in me, Christopher (dear husband who signed me up for this thing).
I love you!