Every year for the past five years I have entered NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated. The idea is that in November, you write every day for the entire month with the aim of bashing out a 50,000 word novel. Having fancied myself a writer since I was 11, when I wrote and illustrated an intriguing short story about Humants (human ants.. it was riveting), I jumped on the Nano bandwagon the moment I heard of it. I didn’t win. Not even a little bit. Instead I managed 10,000 words the first time around and in the subsequent years managed to climb to a not so great total of 15,000 words.
This year I was determined and so off I went. By the 6th of November, I had 6000 words. They were not good words and each sentence took forever. I was so bored with the story I could hardly bear to look at it. I had an idea for a different story but I figured I should finish what I started and put that idea to one side as I yawned my way through each word, checking Facebook every 2 minutes.
So as one does, I shared on Twitter what was going on and the lovely Mamabook suggested that I make the writing I had already done into a short story and go with the other idea. What the hell, thought I and I went for it.
Within 24 hours I had written 10,000 words and I was off and running. Over the next few weeks I dedicated at least an hour each night to writing, no matter how tired I was. I believe this may be reflected in the pages I wrote at that time, but some brutal editing should fix that. I also went off Facebook. A massive sacrifice but it had to be done.
There were a few nights where I missed out due to other commitments and to make up for this, come the weekend I threw all thoughts of housework to the wind and dedicated hours on to getting my word count up.
Now for serious and proper writers, this might seem like a vulgar way to approach a novel. All that purging of words onto page with nary a thought for reading back and making sure it makes sense. But for me, the fact that I was on a very tight deadline, spurred me on and now I have done something I always wanted to do. I wrote a novel.
Whether this novel is ever published remains to be seen. I started doing a read through a couple of days after I finished it and the first couple of pages were not good. I have put it to one side to do a full read through and edit over the holidays. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King suggests putting your first draft away for 6 weeks before you pick it up and read through it. I am taking this advice. He also suggests having a trusted reader to give you feedback – luckily I have my friend SH to do this for me.
Irrespective of whether I try and get it published or whether it sits in it’s current typed up and stapled form on my bedside table, I did something I said I would do and it’s been absolutely worth it.