Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Are You Writing This November?

I mentioned in my post last week that the first time I attempted NANOWRIMO I won. I wrote 50,000+ words in 30 days, and have since written 3 more drafts of that novel. I’m finally happy with what I’ve come up with.

That was in 2008. In 2009 I wrote about 8,000 words and have since abandoned that project. In 2010 I wrote only short stories during the month of November and didn’t even bother logging my numbers on the site.

This year, I’m ready to try again. I’ve had multiple ideas for novels in the past 3 years, but for one reason or other they didn’t happen. This year, though, I have no excuse. I’ve graduated, I’m underemployed and I’ve got nothing but time. I write every day anyway, there’s just no way around it.

So what the heck am I going to write about?

Recently the instructor for my writing class gave us a homework assignment: create a character from two real people that you know.

As I drove home I started thinking about people I could combine into one character and include in a story. I mulled over a few possibilities and finally got stuck on two people from my past that both seemingly overnight disappeared from my life because of our differing values and beliefs. In each case, the other person was heavily devoted to their religion, whereas I am not a heavily religious person. This got me thinking about how religion can be a seriously divisive force and I wonder why that is. 

I’ve been grappling with this issue for a while and was deeply hurt by both people. I’ve been trying to think of an interesting way to write about this for the past few months.

As I thought about it, the story started to materialize. The character began to come alive as her own person and I knew I had a story that I could work with. But later, as I began to write my thoughts down and determine the structure and timeline of the story, I realized that I had too much material to deal with in ten pages. The more I thought about it, the more it felt like a novel to me. The dissolution of a friendship and the consequences of the choices we make in our youth. The story that I had started out to write was only the climax of a much larger piece. 

But why wait to write this novel until November? Community.

That’s one of the beautiful things about NANOWRIMO. We are all in this together. The forums are there so you can talk to other writers who are going through the same pain of trying to get this thing finished quickly. 

This novel is going to be very hard for me. It’s going to be emotional and I will have to work hard to be objective as I write so it doesn’t turn out sounding whiny or bitter. I know that being part of the NANOWRIMO community will help.

Novel writing is a solitary business. It can be lonely. NANOWRIMO reminds us novelists that we are not alone. That’s one of the things I love about it.

What are you planning to write this November? Tell us in the comments section.

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