I’ve always wanted to write a novel but never had the focus or determination to complete one. November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWrMo. The goal of NaNoWrMo is to get would-be novelists to complete a first draft of 50,000 words. Now that’s about the minimal length of fiction to be called a novel, and most editors usually want twice as many words if you submit to them, but the NaNoWrMo consider 50,000 a good writing marathon for one month’s writing. Their goal is not for people to complete a polished novel, but just go the distance. They’ve yet to make December National Novel Rewrite Month, but many bloggers have suggested it.
Essentially this means knocking out 1,667 words a day of fiction. I have no trouble writing as many words on a blog post, but fiction is different. I love blogging and don’t expect to give it up for the month of November. Blogging is therapeutic for me. Writing about something that requires research exercises my memory. And I definitely need help with my memory – it’s slipping away more every day.
But I want to write a novel. Of course I’ve been wanting to write a novel since I was in high school over forty years ago. Rationally I’d think if I hadn’t written one by now I never will. Well, I’m looking at NaNoWrMo as a shit or get of the pot test. Either I’ve got to finish a novel now or give up thinking about ever writing one. All my blogging indicates I like writing essays, which suggests I should work harder to polish that skill. If I fail to produce a first draft in November that’s what I will do – but for now I want to give it one more try.
What I should do is publish my daily NaNoWrMo work here but that might screw up my chances of getting the novel published in the future. I’ve read that most authors have to write several novels before the get one good enough to publish, so maybe I’m being too protective of my first first draft. Also, I believe, and this might be naive, that I’ve got a unique science fiction idea and and I don’t want to spoil it by letting people read a first draft. However, I might be willing to show versions of the opening here as a marketing research to see if anyone responds.
Working on a novel will seem strange though. My blogging is about watching the world and reacting. It’s about looking outward. Novel writing is about looking inward and creating everything from scratch. That might be why I’ve never been able to write a novel. I’ve written about 30 short stories and even 5,000-12,000 words are an agony to produce. I recently put my best effort online and it sank like a stone. Writing non-fiction is engaging – writing fiction is lonely.
I haven’t signed up with NaNoWrMo yet, and I still might chicken out. The idea of coming home from work every evening and turning off the world, shunning all my favorite hobbies to focus on one activity is scary. I love my evening routine. Writing fiction will be like working two jobs. So why do it? I don’t know. I read a lot of fiction and I’ve always wanted to create a fictional work of art. It’s like going to a party and always listening to everyone else talk. Writing a novel would be like having my say.
JWH – 10/18/11