Today I added a new category to this website: novel writing. Last month I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 plus words in 30 days. Until three days ago I struggled. I wanted to chuck the whole enterprise.
I’ve started and stopped more than half a dozen online writing classes. My enthusiasm runs high during the initial stages. But once it comes time to actually writing, everyday, forget it. Part of my struggle has been structural: outlining a novel seemed beyond my capabilities. My previous attempt at writing a novel, while finished, was, quite simply, terrible. I had no outline and just started. Completing it did not instill in me confidence.
During the period of cartooning, I even believed that I would not write fiction – straight fiction, with no pictures or cartoons – again. Such was the distance within myself from a previous desire I had held dear.
Something, however, has changed over the last six weeks. Blank slating this website, deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts and unsubscribing from dozens of newsletters and RSS feeds is clearing my mind of digital clutter and distraction. I am making ready for something new.
That new is a novel. A novel I can complete. A novel I can outline. A novel that flows logically.
Managing the irrelevant constructed an internal environment lacking in confidence. Novel writing for me is an inherently internal process that requires going inward. By remaining distracted, I remained focused outward. The outward focus also drove a desire for quick results.
Novel writing is not quick. On the page, the pacing, emotion and action can take a long time to come together. Forty-five minutes of writing might only reflect five minutes of interaction in the real world. I get that now. I understand what my work is now; and what it will be for the next several months. What is more, I am willing to spend the 45, 60 and 90 minute stints to get the words on the page.
After that, I can’t say. I just feel very fortunate to know what I am doing even if only for these next few months. If you are a writer I look forward to sharing experiences with you. If you are a fiction writer, I’d love to hear from you.