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 Ficly.com, 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.

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