national novel writing month - a sophomoric tale

So November approaches and by the time you – or anyone – reads this I will once again be embroiled in two days of National Novel WritingMonth. Last year was my first attempt and I am pleased to say that I was successful in achieving the fifty thousand word mark in the allotted thirty days, although since the beginning of December I have done little to expand/finish what I had started. I’m unsure if I mentioned in last years NaNo blogs regarding my problems with finding a third act for the novel I was writing and so it has sadly sat in the doldrums since November last year. But, armed with the experiences of last year and having had the concept for this year’s novel in mind since midway through the month last year I am pleased, if somewhat apprehensive to say that I am confident about this years novel.

The major difference is that idea is fully formed, with a true beginning, middle and end, a planned narrative which I have been ruminating on since the beginning of October. Knowing that last years concept was good but lacking any form of plot left me writing by the seat of my pants for the most part, and thusly is probably the reason for its relegation to garner the affection usually given to an unwanted stepchild. When all was said and done last year the final pep-talk was given by ‘Time traveler’s wife’ author Audrey Niffenegger.  Being a fan of her novels I think it was the only talk I actually read – although Neil Gaiman is opening the show this year so that could very well change – in which she made a very complimentary point about the process and challenge involved in taking part in novel writing month :

“Surely you don’t do any of that stuff, or you’d be doomed to slowness and would not excel at this National Novel Writing Month thing. My first novel took me four and a half years to write; the second took seven years, though that was because I fell so in love with the research…”

Seven years…well the challenge of completing the novel seemed a lot less daunting with that in mind. Maybe someday inspiration will hit me like a bolt from the blue and I will pick up last years attempt and breeze towards the completion that every story craves, maybe not, but I realized something rather important while trying.

Although many evenings during the month writing was a chore, something I had promised myself I would do. Armed with the mindset of a January resolution holder rather than the determination of a marathon runner I found solace in the sheer act of creation. I came to realize that it is not inherently important that one finishes rather that they participate; achieving is not as valuable as attempting. The sheer act of creation is a wonderful and uniquely human process .To create art, to siphon an emotion into something more than the physical, to create enjoyment for others or catharsis for ourselves that is the real beauty behind creative process.

Granted there is pride at stake, the chance to once again take up the gauntlet of fifty thousand words and somehow come out at the end knowing you have achieved something humbly fantastic. But armed with better planning, this year I want a little more than that, I want to thoroughly enjoy my time writing, to treat it like a household pet which need my care and affection and to ultimately finish what I start – not in terms of the word count but – to actually create a fully formed narrative.

To anyone even vaguely interested I urge you to try, try and fail if you must but try nonetheless, and to those brave souls back for more, good luck.

p.s. As a brief aside each of the 30 days of November I will be posting a 'story in six words' by a famous author over on google+. If they can create a narrative in that few words imagine what can be done in fifty thousand.

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