One year ago, I had yet to write a word. I had a conversation with my mother about a certain trilogy that had taken the world by storm. I won’t name it, because the reason we were discussing it was because of how much I hated it. And I know I said the words, “I could write better than that,” because my mother issued a challenge that would change my life.
“So? Do it.”
One year ago, I was finally preparing to begin my first National Novel Writing Month. I had never written a bit of fiction…well, that’s not true. Back in my days of tween years of hormonal mood swings I started a few stories that completely sucked. And some bad poetry. But last year…
OK. Last year I started a novel that completely sucked. I mean, it SUCKED. I read it now and am horrified at what I wrote, even though no one will ever seen it. I’ve learned so much in the past year. Thank God.
Writing was one of those things, like running half and full marathons, that I always thought of as something fictional people do. Not real people. Not people I might actually know. And then I met people who ran marathons and realized…hey, they are real people. And if they can do it, maybe I can too. So now I’m training to run a half marathon.
Which leads me back to writing. About five years ago I heard of something called NaNoWriMo. I found the website and signed up, and promptly stopped thinking about it. But the problem was I had these stories in my head. And the only way to get them out was to actually write them.
The next several years I received the NaNo Prep emails every autumn, and thought, “One of these days…” Two years ago, I even bought a new laptop with the idea that someday, I might write something.
And then last year, my mother threw down the gauntlet. So I picked it up and met the challenge– about 36,000 words of it, a tad short of the 50K required to “win”. Someday I will revise that book and move on with it, because I still think it’s a good story. But in the meantime, I’ve moved on, joined a critique group, taken a few online workshops, started another novel, written a few short stories. And the most important thing I’ve learned in the last year is that, damn, they’re right: you do get better simply by writing more.
Now, a year after attempting my first NaNo project, I’m readying for my second. I’m better armed now; better prepared. I have a writing nook, and more knowledge of the craft of writing –but also more knowledge of myself and my own weaknesses and impediments to success. The number one thing I can do to improve is just to put my ass in the chair and type away at the keyboard like a demented monkey. Writing words, lots of words. Every day. All the reading and workshops the Internet has to offer can’t hold a candle to that experience.
And this is how I find myself, at 1:15 a.m. after a full day of cleaning, cooking, and entertaining, writing words. My ass isn’t isn’t the chair, though. I admit it, I’m in pajamas and sitting up in bed, with my husband downstairs so I’m not keeping him awake. I’m technically counting this as Saturday’s writing because I haven’t gone to sleep yet. Tomorrow (today) I will write more words. And again the day after that, until maybe someday I can produce something that makes sense and is something other people may actually want to read.
Oh, but the eyelids, they are heavy…tomorrow, more words.
Wow — great post! Everything you say is true. Becoming a writer is all about putting in the time and writing, writing, writing.
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