A dear friend from college sent me an innocuous e-mail about a month ago, inviting me to participate in National Novel-Writing Month. This is a world-wide challenge to write an entire novel (50,000 words) from scratch during the month of November.
I had been lolling about in between writing projects and cursing my foul luck in the world of agents and magazine queries and such, so I thought “Why not? Write something brand new! Create!” (Picture me here jumping about swirling silk scarves in bright colors.) I had had a novel idea floating around in my head for a few years, and this seemed like a good enough reason to try it out.
So on the 1st of November I plunged right in. Luckily, the date coincided with Daylight Savings Time doing whatever it just did (ended? started? falled back? springed ahead?) AND it was a Sunday, so I had plenty of time to get out of bed, sit down at my laptop, poised and ready to go on the desk in my room, and start ripping. Oh, I was so very Eudora Welty writing next to my unmade bed. (Actually, I NEVER make my bed.)
Now, 50,000 words in 30 days is 1670 words per day. Since I was basically opening the spigot of an idea under a lot of pressure in my brain, the first 1670 words just spewed out. Was it good? No way. But was it started? Yes, ma’am. At least this concept was a’rollin’.
Somehow, although I am one of the least disciplined persons I know, this darn thing has become a mania for me. I get those 1670 words in per day come hell or high water. And I have actually gotten pretty swept up in this odd world I am creating. As of today, I have written over 28,500 words and even have somewhat of a plot (ever my weak link).
At the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing a few years ago, my beloved sister and I split up for one session and K heard a writer – I can’t remember who – who said that writing is like pottery in that you have to make the material first: writing the rough draft is like mixing the clay. Then you can take that stuff and actually make something from it. Similarly, I am mixing my clay together for a novel I have been thinking about for awhile.
Of course the Holy Spirit/Unconscious is one wily bugger. What comes popping up in my novel that originally had no direction? A middle-aged farm wife, marital issues, a corrupt world. And who seems to be working her way through these quandaries? Said middle-aged farm wife. Hmm.
I even got together with my inviter friend for a Nanowrimo write-in with a bunch of Ithacan Nanowrimo-ers. Actually, this was a tad embarrassing. The rest of the people who showed up were all college age or younger. One girl didn’t even have her driver’s license. They were very gracious, but I could see the thought cross their faces “What is this OLD person doing here? Does she have nothing else in her life that she has to write a novel in a month to amuse herself?” But Friend and I had a great visit and did parallel pecking at our keyboards, and a good time was had by all.
I am getting major inspiration from Sting’s new album If on a Winter’s Night available at your local Starbuck’s. The music is awesome and the picture of Sting in a black turtleneck sweater in his Tuscan retreat is also having an effect.
I dare not divulge anything about my book-thing because it is way too amorphous right now and so bizarre that if anyone from my town heard about it, I might lose my job for mental instability, but there is a cat (Jasper), and a love interest who is a combination of my Youngest and Thomas Merton, and there is a hazelnut and leprosy and now I have to go back to writing it. It’s calling to me.
To enjoy the utter coolness of NaNoWriMo, check their website www.nanowrimo.com and plan to do it next year. It is truly a hoot.
Thank you, Friend. I am afraid you have unleashed a monster …