Writing a fourth of a novel in one month!

3 Dec


It is December 3rd, so it has been 3 days since I wrote the 46th page of my novel. I have since added one paragraph. I wrote a little bit every day, except for maybe two or three days, although often this only amounted to one page per day. To what am I referring? National Novel Writing Month, of course.

I had always wanted to try it, and actually did try two years ago. I had the brilliant idea to write a semi-autobiographical story retelling the story of my recent breakup. Yikes. I made it 13 pages. Finally, this year, the project gestated over several months. I had an idea, and it would bear enough fruit to become not just a short story, or a novella, but a real novel.

Well, like Kristin Claes Matthews, I got embarrassed to tell strangers what the story is about (some friends knew). I will be as cryptic now as I was with them: it’s based on the true life story of a real woman who is really alive and who has an unusual life story that always fascinated me. It infuriated me, so I thought I would explore that. When I saw a special about her legal troubles on 60 Minutes ages ago, it stuck with me. How could someone do such a thing? The arrogance! And she probably had no idea she was being so arrogant! I figured I would use a flashback structure to go back and forth between her present day in a foreign prison, and to her past to explore the path her life took to get her to that foreign prison. But enough about my plot.

So in order to successfully complete NanoWrimo (and that is pronounced Nano-reemo, cause originally I had no idea), you have to write 50,000 words, which should come out to approximately 175 pages. So yes, I only wrote a little more than 14,000 words- not even halfway there- and this came to 46 pages. As I mentioned, I wrote every day, but just a little bit. Not enough. I couldn’t help thinking, damnit, is this ANOTHER thing I couldn’t see through to completion? And then I thought, you know what? This is the most I’ve ever written in my life. I like that the purpose of NanoWrimo is to get would-be writers past the roadblock of ‘never good enough’. It is about quantity, not quality. So I got used to the idea of producing a bunch of text that wasn’t necessarily accurate, or good, but it would give me a pulpy mass that I could later go back and revise. Plus, there were a few sentences here and there that are actually kind of good. And who knew there were so many synonyms for “said”?

It was fun, and I hope to continue it. Maybe I’ll finish this thing by my birthday in March. And thank you, folks behind NanoWrimo, for this idea to turn would-be writers into actual writers with no excuses.


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