Thursday, November 01, 2012

Day One Success

I met my writing goal for the day, and then went ahead and exceeded it by a few hundred words. I was able to pump out 2,038 words in a little under two hours. So far this is close to the most success I've ever had with NaNoWriMo. The beginning chapter's aren't really all that good, and it feels like most of the characters are very similar, but it's a start.

Considering I have always wanted to be a writer, having this little bit of success feels very good. Especially after the spectacular failures I had in previous years, and the trepidation that caused over the past few weeks before NaNo started. For a while there I started to believe that I couldn't do this. Now I'm back to thinking that there is a chance that I can.

I'll keep taking it one day at a time, and hopefully have something tangible to show for it at the end of the month. It will likely be unreadable trash, but if I'm able to get some decent characters, scenes, and plot ideas out of it, it won't have been a pointless exercise. And I think that's a big part of the goal. Just to get something done that can either be edited into something great, or at the very least, small pieces of a larger great thing.

In any case, today was a success, and that feels good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

While I still hope to achieve a NaNoWriMo goal, I believe I have set myself up for failure yet again. After giving some serious thought to the purpose of NaNo, I began to have misgivings about the usefulness of it, particularly in the context of previous winners (but I plan to write about that later). While I believe NaNo is particularly useful to get people to write, I’m a bit worried about the end result of that writing being complete garbage.

So, I’ve decided to enroll in a creative writing class. I have been hoping to do this for many years, but there was only one Community College in my area that offered creative writing courses, and none of them were online. While looking at the courses for this semester for the county’s online community college, I noticed that they have since added a creative writing program. Not just a class or two, but an entire program.

This was much too exciting to pass up. So I signed up for the first class in the program, Introduction to Creative Writing. It started yesterday. NaNo starts tomorrow. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do both, and I’m almost positive I won’t be able to do both well. However, when I think about my future, and what I would like to do with my writing, I feel that a structured environment in which to learn good habits will be more beneficial to those long-term goals.

As I work on the first writing project, carbonation bubbles of doubt rise to the top of my consciousness. It’s entirely possible I’m simply not cut out for this. And that, continues to frighten and concern me. I don’t mind failing at most things. This is different. This is not most things, this is the thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Penultimate Attempt

For the fourth time I will be attempting NaNoWriMo. My first three attempts were failures due to a multitude of issues. While I am not an exceptional writer, and outside of my mother, I'm not sure there are many people who would even consider me above mediocre, I have difficulty writing poorly. Well, only when it's on purpose.

I should clarify. I don't believe the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write terrible novels, however, it is incredibly difficult for me to simply write things down without editing as I go. I can often do it for a few sentences or paragraphs, but I quickly find myself scanning back to find errors and poorly constructed thoughts. I will agonize over these mistakes to no end, neglecting the most import part of completing a novel, writing more words.

Another issue that has consistently defeated me is my inability to conceive of good ideas that can sustain a novel. I very much enjoy writing micro fiction at sites like, and am often happy with some of the work I churn out there. However, when I think about writing something that is novel-length, or even novella-length as the 50,000 words of NaNo would be, I freeze up.

Writing a good novel requires an interesting plot and characters that you will enjoy following on their journey. As anyone who has read some of the more popular fiction that exists right now can attest, skillful mastery of prose is less important than an engaging story. I can do that... for a few pages. Successful stories have multiple arcs, with at least two minor climaxes leading to a final climax. They also contain multiple plot threads, with the main, overarching plot being supplemented by two or three other minor plots. The really interesting works have even more than that.

It is a sad realization that something I have wanted to do since I was a teenager may simply be outside of my abilities. And in the end, I would imagine that that has been my main antagonist all along: fear. I've always believed in the back of my mind that I could do it, and that I'd likely do it well. The fear of inevitable failure, and simply not being as good at something as I believe myself to be (and my mom insists I am) frightens me. And if I never give it a real attempt, I can never really fail.