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!