I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Poems. Short stories. Even my first novel attempt at about age 14. The problem was, except for school assignments, I could never finish anything! I’d get started, maybe even make it to the middle, but long before the end I’d abandon my work because it wasn’t good enough.
When I started taking writing classes again in 2000, knowing I wanted to work toward my dream of publication, I again ran into the “finishing” wall. I just couldn’t make anything go much past a few dozen pages. But in November of 2001, a friend I’d met in an online writing class told me about this thing, NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month) The challenge was to write a novel in a month.
Huh. Could I do it? Could I finally type THE END in 30 short days? At the time, my kids were 10, 8, and turning 7 (that November!). I’d already committed to go with the 5th graders to “camp” for three days, had my son’s birthday to celebrate, and, of course, Thanksgiving would be its usual to do. But I figured I had nothing to lose, so I committed with my friend to do it.
At the end of that November I had logged almost 60,000 words and completed my first novel! I was ecstatic! Then I realized I had no idea what to do with a finished book. (That is a story for another day!)
Fast forward 12 years. NaNoWriMo has morphed into something much bigger than when I first participated. There is a website, www.nanowrimo.org. There are support groups and accountability and even a badge at the end at the verification of 50,000 words. I have changed, too. I no longer have trouble finishing a novel, but sometimes I have trouble starting them, even after writing 4 for publication.
In October, I found myself toying with a new story idea, but the craziness of my life crowded out my writing time. I needed a jump start. I needed to know if this story worked without spending tons of time on it and without over-thinking it. So I’m going back to my roots. I’ve officially committed to participate in NaNoWriMo once again, even in the midst of a crazy travel schedule and college kids home for Thanksgiving. But really, is that much different from what it was a dozen years ago? If I end up with something half as workable as that terrible first novel, I’ll be pleased. And if I don’t, at least I’ll have something to discard so that beginning again won’t really feel like the beginning at all, but a continuation.
Sometimes all you need is a good challenge. I’m up for it. How about you?