Monday, November 01, 2010

Glutton for Punishment- National Novel Writing Month

I have signed away the month of November. In a flurry of hubris and irrationality, I have signed up to write a novel in November. Not a short story, not an essay, but a novel. 50,000 words or 175 pages in one month. That just sounds ridiculous. Last week a friend on Facebook posted a link for the National Novel Writing Month website. And I turned my own world upside down.

Ok, that's a little dramatic. But I've been namby-pamby about this whole writing thing lately. With enthusiasm and vigor I attended the Writer's Workshop at UMKC over the summer. And then what did I write? A little thing here or there. A few blog posts, plenty of emails, a grant or five, about fifteen grocery lists, but nothing else. No fiction, nothing longer than 2,500 words. Nothing really. I spend time daydreaming about characters and plot, possible settings and likable scrappy protagonists, charmingly devious antagonists, but what do I write, zilch.

I'm an edit-as-I-go writer. This is paralyzing. I can write one sentence and then try to spend the next two hours making it perfect, switching the phrases, swapping out synonyms, fixing the flow. By doing this I make writing a long slog. I don't save the editing for the end. I never get much written because I block myself out from the very beginning. But with 50,000 words in 30 days, there is just no time for editing. And I checked. The rules do not allow you to just type one word or sentence repeated over and over, like Jack Torrance in The Shining, he was a writer too, remember? (And side note, how many movies has Jack Nicholson starred in where his character name is Jack too, like 50?)

The blog writing has helped me a bit with this early editing disease. But it takes me much longer than I want to admit to write one even one of these simple brief posts. I hammer away at the language and I'm still not satisfied with the final result 80% of the time after I hit "Publish Post." But I'm going to do it.

Again, I'm publicly outing myself about this, so I have someone to report me when I lose focus on November 17th and start surfing Facebook for hours or Go Fug Yourself and avoid writing. At this point I don't really know what I'm going to write. I'm just going to think about it until November 1 and then hope that inspiration takes over, inspiration and hundreds of hours of English lit classes and creative writing classes, and decades spent devouring novels and books by the box load. I can do this. I want to do this. I don't want to turn around in ten years and think I could have written a novel. I should I have tried. Why didn't I try? I'm going to try. (Joe has taken to calling this whole thing TGAN, the great American novel, in a slightly mocking tone, thanks, dear.)

Blogging will be light in November. I'm getting used to writing in larger quantities by writing and stock piling  five or six posts in October. Then I can share them this month while I'm busying writing my novel. (That sounds so cool.)  I've thought about lining up a couple of guest bloggers, so stay tuned. Maybe if the novel writing is going well, I might post a random excerpt or two. Don't count on it though. I'm shy with the fiction and easily wounded by early criticism. So hang on and I'll be right back!

8 comments:

Keri said...

That's AWESOME!! Best of luck to you! I'm so jealous. I wish I had the ability to write. As I always tell Kristen, I read your blog and end up walking away feeling inadequate. Partly because you do all of these cool things like make donut holes from scratch, but also because you have an impressive ability to express your thoughts in such a way that people actually want to read them. So good luck. Break a leg. All that jazz. Oh, and side note....because you know how I am when someone talks about something that can be looked up or searched for on the computer....Jack Nicholson has only been a "Jack" twice. I thought it was going to be a lot, too. Just The Shining and Batman. At least that's what I found on imdb.com

Anonymous said...

i am confident that whatever you comeup with will be wonderful to read. a friend's son who now lives in chicago has been doing this for years and the amount of pride we feel about his writing being published is immeasureable. do we have a deal that you will come to one of my book clubs and help lead the discussion about your book? we serve wine........

bethany actually said...

I have nothing but respect and admiration for people who write short stories, to say nothing of novels. Fiction has just never been my strong suit so I'm in awe of anyone who even attempts it! I'll be here cheering you on, ready to read when you're ready to share. (And although I do not write fiction, I am good at editing it! Just sayin'...)

kassie lou said...

Keri- Don't feel inadequate. I mostly just try stuff and see how it goes. And I have mild ADD so I like to have a lot going on. You are a talented visual artist and I wish I could draw more than just a stick figure. We all have our talents, and you're probably a better writer than you think.
Mary Jo- If I finish this damn thing I'm drinking a whole bottle of wine to celebrate.
Bethany- Thanks for the offer, you would be one of the first people I send it to. If "it" is ever decent enough for public consumption. Even super friendly supportive public consumption.

Katrina said...

That is so awesome!! I wish you the best of luck!! Can't wait to read it when you are finished!!

margherio said...

I think you can just rewrite 'The Fountainhead,' change a couple of names and captains of industry and call it 'Atlas Shrugged' and you'll be fine. Worked for Ayn Rand. If people notice they'll prbably just start calling you a neo-philosopher. Could be good.

Nae said...

I love you. This is so damn cool. Just remember that you can and you WILL stay open minded, and receptive to any and ALL crazy ideas you may have. You can't begin with editing.

All the best my dear!! As usual, you are breakin' out the serious bravery. And don't correct my grammar on that :)

DanaCK said...

We'll hang on. I can't wait to read it!!