Instead of writing my random little blog entries, I have spent the last month taking part in NaNoWriMo - which is National Novel Writing Month. "Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon" in an effort to put 50,000 words down on paper. In short, would-be writers the world over endeavor to write a novel (or at least part of one) in the month of November. That breaks down to 1,667 words a day. This year 256,618 people took part, over 8000 of them in the Seattle area. Seattle is a NaNo hotspot, we have traditionally been at the top of the list when it comes to participants, words per participants, and donations per participants.
There are so many of us who have spent our entire lives thinking we might just have what it takes to be a writer of some sort. There are so few of us who ever actually write anything. Both of the previous sentences describe me pretty accurately. I started out as a Journalism Major in College, and then switched to Creative Writing (I was lucky enough to have studied with Richard Hugo at the University of Montana). However, between then and when I started this blog, my writing consisted of several different company newsletters, the occasional Christmas letter, and a few long and wordy travel journals.
Given that only about 1 in 5 participants do finish, I am inordinately proud of having done this. Happily, and most amazingly, my book was actually finished at 51,022 words so it turned out to be something I actually did finish in every sense of the word....well, not counting edits and stuff.
No question I was one of the older participants, and evidently one of the few who was not writing some variation on Sci-Fi, Fantasy, or Crime. I think I may also have been one of the few with no anticipation that I would be published - that kind of reality-based thinking also comes from being older. My goal was quite simply to write a book. I set myself no other goals or illusions, I didn't even expect to particularly like the finished product.
I learned a lot of things from the entire process, some of which I will share with you here:
1) One's characters really do take control of their own story line.
2) Little bits you put in early on for no good reason whatsoever become lifesavers 10 chapters down the line.
3) It's a wonderful excuse for avoiding anything else you don't want to do.
4) I am the queen of starting sentences with adverbial and prepositional phrases.
5) I prefer to write novels with very little plot...because I appear to be rubbish at plot.
5a) Put another way, I write books for ladies over fifty who like England.
6) I use too many commas (see #4 above).
7) My rear-end hurts from sitting on hard chairs at Starbucks and Third Place Books.
The finished product turned out to be better than I had feared. I can honestly say I found several really good paragraphs and a few decent chapters when I reread it. There's a lot of me in it, and so I like it. Now I will be putting my self-discipline to an even greater test...I'm am going to start editing, and rewriting, and revising. My goal is simple, I want all my chapters to be 'decent'. I think I might be able to do that.