Vacation is over, now on to the next adventure. And I really have lost it this time: I signed on to write a 50,000 word novel in November during National Novel Writing Month. (That’s 1667 words a day for 30 days, if you do the math.) I’m in good company, nearly half a million other crazy people around the globe are going to be hunkered down doing the same thing. Except they will be eating peanut butter and frozen burritos for dinner and I still have to steam spinach and prepare a softly-cooked protein every night for my 98-year-old charge and spoon feed the 9-month-old one. But we all have our scheduling issues, so I won’t whine about mine.
I have never written even a paragraph of fiction, nor had any interest in it—other than to read it, which I have voraciously since I learned to read—mostly because I don’t think I can write it. People who make up stories are like gods to me; I’ve never understood how they do it. And now I’m going to spend every available moment, between Mama care and grandson care, writing a novel. This would be a good time to be a night owl, which I am not; or enjoy a caffeine buzz, which I do not.
“Don’t try to create the story—listen, and let it be told through you.” You may ask why I am doing this to myself; I have. I am intrigued by what I read and hear often from the gods of fiction: that they get to know their characters as they move in with them and live in their skin on the page. They find out what will happen to them as their story unfolds. Really? Can that, does that happen? And I need a new writing challenge; I’ve been stuck in the memoir, which is too much like real life. Oh, it is real life.
The good news is, no one cares if my novel is absolute crap, no one will even see it. It’s all about the word count. If I download 50,000 words into the WriMo website by November 30, I will be a winner! I really, really want to be a winner. I can even get the t-shirt (with $16)!
Those of you who know me can appreciate my anxiety about turning off the Inner Critic, the Grammar Nazi, and the Obsessive Editor—a time-sucking trio. But the object here is to just lay down the story one word at a time, and not stop to make it good. It can become bestseller worthy later 😁 (If you know “Water for Elephants,” you might be interested to know it started as a NaNoWriMo sprint.)
I’ve told several people over the course of my North Carolina visit I’m doing this, and no one has told me I’m insane. In fact, all have been very supportive; and, when I have asked for it, helped me think about some details. Participants are not supposed to start writing until midnight on November 1, but October is Preparation Month and there are several suggestions on the WriMo website of which I have availed myself. And, FYI, I have cheated already and written 250 words.
I would love for you all to be on my team; that’s why I’m telling you all this. When you ask how it’s coming, I don’t want to say, “Oh, I quit.” There’s a reason sports teams playing on the home court have a higher rate of success than the visitors: they have an extra team member, the crowd. I might even ask you to brainstorm something for me, and to send suggestions; but at least to be silent cheerleaders.
“We write toward who we will become from where we are.” The most often asked question when I tell people is: “Do you know what your story is?” Never having written fiction, and with limited time, I knew it needed to be something familiar. But I don’t want to write about my current life, I need to escape. So my plot is a middle-aged-plus woman is leaving her home and friends on the east coast and moving to the other corner of the country to live in her childhood home (you with me? sound familiar?), after the death of her mother (highly fictional, not sure that will ever happen). So I’m writing my fantasy of the next phase of my journey. Oh, not mine, it’s fiction: Stella’s journey. So that’s it.
There will be no posts on this blog in November, unless it’s to tell you where I’m at (word count) and, perhaps, offer a question about something I’m stumped on and ask for help. If you are a Facebook friend, I will only be looking at my newly created Writer Page; so if you want to send any rah rah rahs, put it on my new page. Like it here to get updated word counts, short videos (maybe) on how my day went and how much hair I have pulled out, and questions for feedback. You can also leave virtual chocolate and red wine there. I apologize in advance that I will know nothing of your lives next month (at least not via FB).
Sentence number one of my novel: “You have definitely lost your mind,” Stella said out loud to no one as she closed for the last time the front door of the best house she had ever lived in, the one with the ReMax lock box still leering from the door knob; the one she had fore-tellingly painted Bittersweet Orange just a summer before.”
See you on the other side! (I got a “badge” for creating a cover. It’s like being a Girl Scout again.)