I spent the month of November in a state of excited - sometimes panicked - bliss.
For those of you who aren't familiar with it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a one-month challenge that happens every November. Thousands of writers and would-be writers make a promise to themselves, to the internet, to their NaNoWriMo homepage - a promise that they will write 50,000 words of a novel by November 31.
I decided to sign up two days before it started. I've written a little bit about how empowering my experience was here.
But it wasn't just empowering, it was thrilling.
I was writing a novel.
A novel! With characters! And a plot! (Hopefully.)
I love writing on this blog. I love writing about creativity and sharing my life. I love words in general. But here on the blog I'm telling you about something that happened, something that I did, something I made.
When I write fiction, I am creating something. I'm creating people, life, whole worlds. And it's like being on drugs. Really good drugs.
Navah said I looked like I was on something when I finished a writing session. Wild eyed with a cat-that-ate-the-canary grin, I was drunk with power.
During November, I sat in coffee shops, giggling about the dialogue I was splattering onto the page, patting myself on the back for a new character development, making subtle movements that I hoped no one would notice while I tried to figure out the right description for my characters' ticks and quirks.
I wrote in my head constantly. I thought about my characters all the time and actually said "aha!" on multiple occasions after coming up with what I thought were particularly good ideas.
Every time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I thought why haven't I been doing this forever?
And that's the thing that's so great about NaNoWriMo and why I would recommend it to anyone who ever thought for one second that they'd like to be a writer. IT MAKES YOU WRITE.
I always wanted to be a novelist. Ever since I read Anne of Green Gables and then Little Women, I wanted to be a novelist. I wanted to send off my manuscript wrapped up in brown paper, tied with a piece of kitchen twine. I envisioned receiving the envelope in the mail, my hands shaking as I opened it to reveal a kind note congratulating me. I imagined running my hands over the smooth cover of a book with my name on it.
But the actual writing of a novel? I never actually believed I could write one. I read novels, and they were like magic to me. How could anyone do that? Make people and a whole world from nothing? From their mind?
That belief - or lack of belief - kept me from writing.
I wrote a little short story here or there, putzed around a bit, but I guess I hoped that one day a whole novel would spring, fully formed, into my mind.
Because I never actually believed I could create one.
Thank god there is no time for believing or not believing during NaNoWriMo. You either write or you don't. And sometimes that means you either don't write or you write crap. When you're up against a deadline, you write crap if that's what you have to do.
But that crap is still your creation. That crap is a little morsel. It might get thrown out or it might lead to something else. You never know until you put the words on the paper.
And after 30 days of that, you look down and realize you've got 146 pages of words, of people that you created, people that do things and say things and have feelings. And if you're like me, most of it is truly, utterly horrible.
But that's okay. In fact, that's fabulous. It means you get to keep working on it. It means there's more creating to do. It means you get to keep taking the drug.
When I would tell Navah that what I was writing was terrible, she'd try to comfort me or admonish me for being critical of myself. Are you kidding? I'd say. This is awesome! I think it's terrible and I'm still writing it. I'm not letting that stop me. I'm writing because that's what you do if you want to be a writer, no matter what. Now there's actually hope that I could get better and I could be a novelist. I could actually write a novel. I AM writing a novel.
I'm in the revising stage now, going through page by page to see what's there. Sometimes I'm surprised. I've forgotten whole scenes. I'm wrapping my head around this story I'm creating, figuring out where there's more to say, where there are other, small stories to include.
I think I'll be writing this one for a long time.