Understand that I rarely finish anything I start. Rarely, if ever.
There, now you understand that vital fact. This is essential if you're going to understand me. I remember, at one point I was into writing plays (musicals, no less – I can't even fathom the pain I must have inflicted upon those forced to listen), and I had no less than forty-two plays on my dad's computer. Of those, two were completed. That means forty unfinished projects were put to a much-needed rest when that computer died.
So when I went browsing random profiles on FictionPress, I came across this link to a site called NaNoWriMo. Intrigued, I clicked. There was a whole sprawling website with numerous links atop its navigation bar and news articles, headings, Frequently Asked Questions, and a confusing meter having to do with a library in Cambodia. And there, smack dab in the middle underneath a "Need a Reminder in October?" box, was a box that I knew was meant for me.
"New to NaNoWriMo? Click here to find out what this is all about!"
Naturally, the clicking commenced.
Turns out that this NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month (a misnomer – the event has sprawled across the globe now). In November, a huge number of participants aging from their teens to well past senior citizen age race the clocks to hit 50,000 words by midnight on November 30. I might have chuckled aloud at this point. Right. I was supposed to believe that someone could write a flipping 50,000 words in one singular solitary month.
Intrigued still further, with a slight pinch of skepticism, I browsed on.
Turns out that people have actually done it. Done it and surpassed it. People have hit 75,000. 100,000. I might be mistaken, but I think someone might have even made 125,000. This made me feel a bit inadequate. Who was I to even consider joining this obvious realm of the elite?
Yes, I continued to browse.
Turns out that in the guidelines, the creator Chris Baty says that these people write a lot of junk. Stuff that's not even vaguely publishable, that makes the author shudder with horror when they reread it and think, "I actually wrote this filth?" I know I've written slime and muck before. It's the stuff that gets deleted off my computer after three years of avoiding it like the plague. So I know how it is to write absolute, honest-to-God garbage. It stinks like a moldy pile of tomatoes, is how bad it stinks sometimes. Strike that, make it onions. They smell worse.
Now it sounds like I think I'm an awful author. Authoress, to use my own wording. I don't, really. I think I'm fairly decent at it, and people who have reviewed my stories often think it's worthy of their presence. And I love to do it. That's why this idea intrigued me so much, especially the write-50,000-words-of-utterly-ludicrous-nonsensical-waste part. Write 50,000 words of completely ridiculously awful plot-or-lack-thereof and be thought of as a winner, at least to all my fellow sufferers? Sounded like a plan to me. I decided then and there: I was going to participate.
Hey, remember that part about never finishing anything?
That's what I'm worried about now.
My writing style is a double-edged sword to this insane thirty day race. I hardly ever getting anything finished, as you remember. This is either because I don't know where the story is going or how it is going to get there, or because I lose interest because I've thought it out so much. The first can be conquered by a simple outline (more like pages upon pages upon hours upon days of thinking it out…I tend to overproduce in my head); the latter has no clear-cut solution. I think if I gear up enough, I can start out with enough momentum to propel me across the finish line. Right now, my story outline is coming great – characters keep popping up, and my story just realized that it wants to be set at a boarding school. I word it like this because I don't think I had much to do with it.
The second part of my writing style that kills me is that I can't write wordy, long, and verbose to save my life.
Take my last large project, for instance. It was a huge excitement for me to finally finish it in June, since I had taken it up in March. It was a compilation of the characteristics and lives of my friends and I coupled with a few pieces of excellent creativity on my part (mostly romance. I couldn't help myself). I started in March, centering it around the play that we were doing in school. When a cast member quit, they quit in the story and then made a heroic return. I could rearrange life the way I wanted to, which made my motivation increase tenfold. The end ended exactly the way I wanted it to. I couldn't wait to finish typing it up at home.
I had finished, after four agonizing months (March, April, May, and June – the most exciting months of my life). And then, when I had finished it completely, typed and all, I went to Tools and hit Word Count, excited. This could be my goal for the huge NaNoWriMo project!
I could almost see my falling face reflected in the computer screen. 43,187. Nearly 7,000 words short.
I had wrung every article, every adjective, every adverb, and every interjection out of that baby that could possibly have been wrung out. The only solution I could see would be to add another subplot, and even that wouldn't have taken up 7,000 words. And besides, it would have taken another two months to go back and adjust every aspect that another subplot would impact. It wasn't even worth it. It stands at 43,187 today, as a reminder that I did well, but this November I'm going to have to do better.
Personally, I can't wait, even after my misgivings and my excuses and my previous attempts that could have taken my resolve away but didn't. My mom is tired of hearing me say that I can't wait until November. At the time of writing this, there are three days until sign-up on October 1st, and I want to be the first newbie to hop aboard. (It might even be possible, since the first is on a Saturday this year.) And then, thirty-one days later, I'll hop on my computer and write the first sentence, which I am sure to spend the entire day pondering over. I'd start on midnight on November 1st, but it's a school night, and though my family is supportive, they aren't supportive enough to let me stay up until two in the morning on Halloween.
Backstory. Character descriptions. Plot outlines (lots of them). Subplots. All of them are forming in my head, and it's only about another month until I can let them out. And hopefully they'll carry me across the finish line on their shoulders.
(The NaNoWriMo site can be found at nanowrimo(dot)org.)