Thursday, October 29, 2009

Because it's not there.

On the brink of October ending, I have more on my mind than just Halloween. Once again I find myself pondering - and foolishly committing to - National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge to take the month of November and, by writing around 1700 words each day, write a 50,000 word novel. I've participated and "won" for the past two years (winning involves completing 50,000 words before midnight on November 30th) but I'm hesitant to participate again.

My first reason for stalling is that I don't have too many ideas. This is the first year that I've struggled to develop a title and though I've been working through some outlining and pre-writing, I just don't know if my ideas are any good. Secondly, I feel a bit like I've already completed two 50,000+ projects that are for the most part unreadable and in desperate need of editing. I've yet to take the steps of revisiting my work and polishing it so I feel a little senseless persuing another draft when my first two have gone nowhere.

But when I think about the fun involved of seeing a story come to life... when I take a day and write a character that I never even planned to create... there's a thrill to it. Yes, there are the frustrating days when I want to dropkick my laptop out the train door. Yes, there are the writer's block moments when I seem to plug out nothing but cheesy dialog. But when each day brings me closer to a novel - even a largely unreadable first draft of a novel - it's exciting. And completion is pure elation.

Funny thing is, as much as I like to write and to write about writing, I don't like to talk about my novel. I think it's near impossible to say the words "my novel" outloud without sounding a bit pretentious. Go ahead try it, "The other day I was working on my novel..." - don't you instantly sound a bit more full of yourself? Maybe it's just me. My writer identity (I still can't use the word *author*) isn't one I'm completely comfortable with. A sure fire way to make me blush is to bring up my writing in public.

I'm giving it another go, though. I came across a quote the other day that read, "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." For me, that's what NaNoWriMo is about. I'm not pursuing publication. I don't even write for an audience. It's just about me creating something new. Because it isn't there.

4 comments:

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

I'm laughing at six AM because you DON'T like to talk about your novel! Last year when I asked you about NaNoWriMo, you explained that, but when I asked you another time about your novel--yikes--your expression changed. I know deer in the headlights is overused, but how about my dear friend in the headlights? Anotonio just stood by you and nodded his head when I asked about it, he was your rock...

Creating is good. And when you die, your children can have your stuff published and live out life in a posh way (after giving 10%).

lisa :) said...

Heh heh...you're not the only one that's embarrassed me that way. Even in front of my family I get shy when talking about my work.

And Tony is a great encouragement. He read my last work and said he enjoyed it - and I would suspect bias but he is nothing if not honest.

I don't know about leaving my work for future generations, but maybe after it sits on the shelf for a while I'll go back to it. I figure in retirement I'll brush it off edit it up and maybe make something of it then. ;)

Greg said...

I enjoyed reading this post, Lisa. I can relate to much of what you say here. Also like the quote, "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." So true for me.

I'm glad to hear you're going for a three-peat in NaNoWriMo. I don't think I'd be able to put together 50,000 words in a month like you can. But rest assured, throughout the month of November I also will be plugging along on my... err *a* novel.

BTW, I do have a NaNoWriMo account, so last year I remember reading some excerpts from your novel. I had fun reading them, and I think you've got great potential. Since I didn't have access to your finished novel, I can't judge it. And I do realize that there's a difference between writing a page that's "good" and writing 200 pages that are "good." That's what I'm struggling with right now. It isn't easy, but in some ways, that's also what contributes to the fun.

Enjoy the adventure!

lisa :) said...

Thanks Greg! I'm glad you're taking a stab at NaNo as well! This year I'm actually attempting a "sequel" to my story from last year. Basically it's all the scenes and ideas I never got down in '08. I figure someday I'll take last year's and this year's and mush them into a massive 100K work - and then I can trim a good 40K of drivel out of it and possibly end up with something decent. ;)

Best thing I can say is focus on getting the words out. Some will be awesome, some not so much - but you can distinguish between the two at a later time.

...Just be sure to post the ones that are awesome so we can all appreciate them!