Have you ever thought about writing a book?
I know I have. I spent a good portion of my time in middle and high school writing short stories and plays, fully expecting that one day, I would write a novel. Or two or three! I carried these ideas with me to U of H, one of the only universities I knew of that offered a Creative Writing major. I got the poetry requisites for that major out of the way during my sophomore year and settled in for two great years of nothing but fiction writing, fiction seminars, and fiction lectures from published novelists. Their advice? Read everything. Write constantly. Then read some more.
I read good books, I read bad books, I read books that I didn’t understand, I read books that I couldn’t put down, I read books that made me cry, I read books that made me angry, I read books that made me laugh out loud — I read everything. I would read books back then and think, “I can do this.” In my most humble moments, I would read something that was of Pulitzer quality and think, “I can do better than this.” (Oh, but we were ALL that humble back then in our university classroom! Ha!)
Fast forward to now, eight years after graduation, and believe it or not, I’m not a Pulitzer winner. (Gasp!) I read books now and think, “I can do… well, actually, I can’t do this!” I can’t do it because if I could… well, wouldn’t I have done it by now? Perhaps the hardest part of writing a novel is actually sitting down, putting pen to paper, and DOING IT. And since to date I have NOT done that, I’ve come to appreciate writers (published and unpublished alike!) who actually have. And I’ve wondered about how I can discipline myself to join their ranks.
This is where NaNoWriMo comes in! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Beginning November 1st, aspiring novelists near and far will begin writing, concentrating on quantity rather than quality with the goal of having a 175-page (50,000 word) novel by midnight on November 30th. One month to just write without worrying about revisions and the completed project, which is very often where I get bogged down in my failed attempts to write something. One month to take risks and see what happens when you dedicate the time to writing. Fun!
I know what you’re saying — Jenn, when are you going to find the time to do this? I have no idea. But I’m going to give it a try. I found out about NaNoWriMo from my friend, Marla, who is a mother of three and has still managed to write (and publish!) four incredible books. I’m willing to wager that she hasn’t discovered a way to add ten extra hours to every day just for her writing, so there has to be a way to write while taking care of children, taking care of a home, being a wife, having a career, etc. I’m not sure how this is possible, but I’m going to give it a try starting eleven short days from now.
So… is anyone out there going to join me? Any NaNoWriMo novelists out there gearing up (or just thinking about gearing up) for a busy but rewarding November? I’d love to hear from you if you are!