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Novel writing and dream crushing

I just received an update email from NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.

Sigh.

You may have possibly noticed, or at least guessed, that I enjoy writing. I think you sort of have to enjoy writing to have a blog, unless it’s entirely made up of videos or photos of lolcats. I don’t claim that my blog posts are novel quality or anything – to be perfectly honest, I only give them a cursory proofreading before posting, which is why you see the occasional typo or nonsensical statement (heaven forbid). Here I write very stream of conscious-like, more like how I would talk to you then how I’d write formally.

I’ve always loved writing fiction stories. When I was in second grade I wrote a story about a kid who made a time machine out of a cardboard box and befriended a talking brontosaurus (based on a giant paper mache dinosaur we made…I should really find the picture of me standing with it!). In third grade I was writing my own variety of Goosebump books. In 5th and 6th, the story of me and my friends’ Pokemon journey (a fanfic writer at an early age, I guess). Then in 7th grade I concocted The Story.

Why does this particular story get the infamous title of The Story? Because it started a trend that still annoys me to this day – starting to write a great story and then never finishing it. These stories aren’t just a couple paragraphs scribbled on scrap paper as an idea – with my stories, I’ll get 10,000 words in and emotionally invested in my characters. And then I stop, with my chapters just sitting on my computer, waiting for me to add something to them. Occasionally I’ll feel a spark of creativity, or maybe just pity for neglecting my literary children, or maybe guilt for not being able to complete a project, and I’ll go work on them for a while. Even The Story, which started as stereotypical ideas from a 13 year old girl, is still around today (granted, with many many face lifts). Why have I created so many abandoned stories?

I blame NaNoWriMo.

Okay, blame isn’t entirely the best word. I know there are probably maybe reasons why I don’t finish them. I don’t have the time, I don’t think they’re good enough, I don’t think anyone would want to read them, etc etc. But NaNoWriMo definitely has encouraged part of it. NaNoWriMo is an event where you attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. The catch is you have to start from scratch – no adding to preexisting work. If you thought I was insane for doing Blogathon, then you have to be absolutely out of your mind to do this. Which is why I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo five times.

The reason why I have so many stories is that I’ve failed five times.

I had my classic fantasy adventure (The Story)(2004), a second failed attempt at the same fantasy (2005), the dystopian future of cloning and organ harvesting (2006), the Greek Gods humorously causing havoc on a modern day pagan and atheist (my favorite story so far)(2007), the corrupt religious scientists infecting a population with the “God gene” (2008).* All of them patiently sit at 5,000 to 10,000 words, waiting to be finished.**

And even with all my failures, I know I’m probably going to do it again this year.

It’s absolutely insane for me to even consider attempting it. I’ll be a senior with hard classes, a class to teach, research to do, grad schools to apply to, a club to run, a blog to update (don’t worry, I won’t abandon you guys) – and I still want to write a novel? NaNoWriMo is like an abusive husband that I can’t will myself to leave. I don’t know why I keep going back and getting slapped around. Maybe it’s the hope that one year I’ll actually have the motivation to finish. One year I’ll plan ahead so when November rolls around, I’ll have a helpful outline and solidified ideas. But really I think it’s because I don’t know when I’ll ever have this sort of time again. College is hard, but the “real world” is harder. This is my chance to instill good novel writing habits, or I’ll never do it. It’s always been a dream to get a book published, but I kind of need to actually finish a book before I do that.

And now that I’ve typed all that, I’m really not sure why I did. Maybe for someone to tell me how crazy I am and dissuade me. Maybe for someone to wave the pom poms and tell me to do it. Or maybe I have a reader who has also been repeated raped by NaNoWriMo and can sympathize. All I know is if I do decide to do this crazy shit again, I need to start planning now, or I’m just going to be whining again come December.

*Dear lord these all sound horrendous typed out in uber-summarized form. I promise you they’re better than they look. Really.
**And it’s not that I’m unhappy with them – I like all of them, and I’m super proud of how the Greek God one started. I think I’m just too afraid to ruin it at this point.