Category Archives: Writing a Novel

Writer Reality Check

I love this blog by Kristen Lamb. So great. It’s all about things to expect when you become a writer, including not having anyone take you seriously. It also talked about how important it is to take the word “aspiring” out of your vocabulary (Don’t try. Just do.), and that it’s okay to spend all your time watching movies and reading books, because it’s called research. Brilliant. And inspirational.

However, at the beginning of the blog, she says she is talking to those people who just decide one day to become writers. And my first thought when reading was… Does one really just become a writer? Is that realistic? As if one day you wake up and say, “By Jove, I think I’ll write a NY Times best-seller today!”

I don’t think it works like that. Sure, you may suddenly feels the heavens align when you don’t have the urge to kill anyone after writing that one-page poem in your fifth grade unit on Edgar Allen Poe. You may realize you don’t have a complete aversion to creative writing like your friends do. Papers aren’t the devil.

But I definitely didn’t have that eureka moment when I realized that I wanted to be a writer. I think I just kinda became one. I started blogging in high school for the local paper, and it was a fun way to express myself. And then I kept it up in college because it was a good way to keep my parents in the loop.

Perhaps, though, there is a moment when you think, “What if I did this forever? What if this was my career?”

Now that is a moment. A clearly defined moment. For me, it came as I was sitting in the library last semester, writing a blog about growing up in the country, and I realized that I enjoyed blogging more than anything else I was doing all that semester. I enjoyed it even more than my film classes. And I had a pretty consistent following on my blog, so somebody had to enjoy what I was saying. Maybe that is translatable into longer fiction pieces?

I still don’t know if what I have to say is interesting or even if my particular “voice” (or whatever) is transferable to fiction. And I haven’t even finished a novel yet (though I’m still trying!). So I can’t necessarily just up and quit everything, graduate with a B.A. and move to Greenwich Village to become a self-involved, beatnik writer who meanders through Central Park without shoes, writing poetry for free to the tourists passing through. As much as I’d like to.

I guess I need to get a big-girl job, whatever that will be. And writing will be on the side.

For now.

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Writing a Novel: Day 12

Status: Trudging Along
Word Count: 10,061

My pace has slowed down. Having the holiday break has been nice and I’ve been able to write a lot, but I’m starting to lose focus with my story. It’s meandering and the conversations between my characters are putting me to sleep. Seriously. I fell asleep typing last night.

And there are only so many ways for one character to express her annoyance at the other handsome, pompous character. She’s exasperated, irriatated, irked and annoyed. Repeat.

Bleh.

I think I am going to take a little time and do a few character sketches so I can really map out who my characters are, where they come from, etc, so I can get a better feel for their personalities and motivations. Right now, they too closely resemble the originial book (I’m writing a modern adaptation). Except that they aren’t as cool as the characters in the original book. They’re booooring.

The reason I didn’t do this earlier is because I was on a deadline. A time crunch. There was no time.

But now I can, because I have a confession to make. I’ve decided to not stress about finishing my novel by November 30th. Because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are only four days left until then. Four days and forty thousand words to go. That would equal writing exactly 10,000 words A DAY starting tomorrow.

Which actually really sounds like it’d be fun– if I didn’t have other things to do (that have non-negitiable deadlines and very real consequences for not doing them). So all these very real, very pressing deadlines mean that I can’t possibly push them aside for even one day. Real life doesn’t stop for creative kinds of things, no matter how much I wish it would.

But don’t worry. This definitely does NOT mean that I’m giving up on my novel. I’m plugging away. The new plan is to finish the novel by Christmas. That gives me four weeks. I think I can manage 10,000 words a week.

On the bright side, I have officially written more words on this story than I’ve ever written on any story before. And I’m exactly one-fifth of the way done! Woo-hoo! I can see the end in sight!

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Writing a Novel: Day 8

Status: Elated
Word Count: 6388

I FOUND MY FLASH DRIVE!!!

*insert happy dance here*

After literally calling every place I’d been on Sunday (that poor woman at Barnes and Noble sounded really concerned for my well-being when I thanked her, in a super depressing voice, for checking the Lost & Found for me), and after taking every single gum wrapper and wad of paper out of both Valerie’s and my backpack in search of the flash drive, I still couldn’t find it. It was nowhere to be found.

I’d basically given it up as lost, and defeated, I couldn’t pull myself to do any more writing. I’d just lost so many words (and such good ideas) that it felt like it didn’t matter how much I wrote anymore.

Then, I was packing my backpack for the day, and I picked up a pencil to put in my backpack. I have those little circular pockets in my backpack just for pens and pencils, but I couldn’t put the pencil anywhere because they were all full. And that’s when I saw it! The flash drive had been shoved into one of those tiny little pockets!

I’m so glad I found it. Now I can start writing again. But before I do, I am going to save that stinkin’ story in a couple hundred different places all over my computer. I’ll never risk losing it again.

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Writing a Novel: Day 7

Status: Petrified.
Word Count: Currently unknown.

I wrote a bunch of words today. A bunch. I was close to 5,000 words. But now I can’t find the updated version of my story. I can’t find it anywhere.

When I was writing today, I wasn’t near a power source. So when my computer was about to die, I put my story on Valerie’s flash drive and transfered my story over to her computer, where I resumed working for another hour or so.

But now I can’t find her flash drive. It’s not in my backpack. I literally took out all contents of my bag to look for that little silver thing. And it’s not in her backpack either. The only place left that it might be is in Val’s other purse at home.

I’m scared that I might have lost almost an entire day’s work (not to mention all of Val’s files). Five thousand words = ten percent. I was ten percent of the way done (and yes, I know that’s not nearly far enough). But ten percent is a hell of a lot closer than only four percent — which is what I’m back to, if I can’t find those pages.

And worse than the numbers is the fact that I really liked what I’d written today. And it might be gooooooooooone. *sniff

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Writing a Novel: Day 3

Status: Enthusiastic and loving it.
Word Count: 1048

I’m definitely not as far along as I’d like to be with my word count, but other than that, I’m loving this whole writing a novel business. I forgot how much I absolutely love writing fiction. I enjoy blogging and all, but that’s just telling you what’s already on my mind. But with fiction, there’s a rush, an almost heady feeling, when I hit on a good idea. When a plot point works, the dialogue snaps, and the characters and their motivations start making sense, life is good. There’s no better feeling.

That being said, on practical terms, I really do wish I was further along in my word count.

Yes, I do realize that I only have twelve days left. And yes, I kinda think I’m delusional too. But I’m having so much fun!

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Writing a Novel: Day 1

Status: Still excessively optimistic.
Word Count: 0

I signed up online at NaNoWriMo today. Officially threw my hat in the ring. And I got a lovely email in response, the author of which is most definitely a writer. They’re very encouraging. For example, the subject line of the email read: NaNoWriMo loves VDuke. They know me too well.

That email was just so inspiring. They told me how to get plugged into local writing groups (too late for me to join one now though). They told me to just keep going. They assured me that it was completely natural to not have any idea what I was doing.

And they introduced a foreign concept to me– writing without editing.

I am a classic case of edit-as-you-go. I almost never write completely new drafts of papers because by the time I’ve reached the end of the essay, it’s really already been edited five or six times through. So this new approach to writing will be a challenge for me. A very big challenge. Probably the biggest one (after writing all those words, of course).

Here’s an excerpt from that awesome email:

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.  

My favorite is number three. I’ve definitely already told all y’all about this novel business. Here’s to hoping you’ll make me stick to it.

I should probably start writing now.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Writing a Novel

I can’t resist. I really can’t. I tried. I surfed the web for an hour. I wandered aimlessly through too many Facebook pages (and found out that some friends from high school are engaged. Congrats!). I did anything and everything I could think of to distract myself from this silly idea that I could write an entire novel in sixteen days. Two weeks and two days.

I’m crazy.

But who cares? I’m officially going to try.

Thanks to Rhonda, I’m listening to my intuition, heading the call of my heart, and channeling my true purpose (hopeful byproduct = courage). In other words, being too stupid to say “no” just might come in handy already.

I’ll see you on the other side.

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