Monday, November 2, 2009

Someday is NOW

I've been thinking about what is really important for me to get done during the remainder of my ever shortening lifetime.  Okay, sure, that sounds pretty dark and pessimistic, but it's true.  So I'm paring down my list of "someday"s to the ones that really matter to me. 

One of the main things I had always planned to do was write a novel.  I love to write.  I wrote my first short story in the third grade, and it was actually quite long for a third-grader, it was around 10 pages written out, had several different chapters and lots of illustrations drawn in the margins.  All through elementary school and high school I wrote short stories and essays and I loved it, and I got lots of praise from my teachers.  By contrast, I never ever ever EVER got anything remotely resembling praise from any of my math teachers.  Or my gym teachers.  Or my science teachers, or geography, or history...

In college I majored in English, until one semester when I got fed up with being forced to take classes about reading Chaucer, or Beowulf, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  I love reading and I read all the time, but I could only take so much of that.  I'd already taken all the English department's writing classes, so I switched to a Journalism major when I realized that it would let me spend more time actually studying writing.

But after I graduated and didn't have any deadlines pushing me, I pretty much stopped writing.  I've enjoyed the little bits of writing I've done here and there (such as this blog) but I have always wanted to write a novel.  Thinking about writing an entire novel is pretty intimidating, at least to me, and I kept putting it off.  So, I have decided to do...


Yay.  If you've never heard of it, you can go here for more info:  Basically it's NAtional NOvel WRIting Month, and part of its purpose is to kick dumbasses like me into gear and make us actually write something. 

From their site:  National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.  Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.  Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

I am SO excited.  To finish 50,000 words in 30 days works out to be 1,667 words per day.  On my first day I wrote 2,766.  I'm ahead, woo hoo!  To be fair, that first day was a Sunday, so I had the day off.  Plus there was an extra hour because of the time change.  But honestly, I have always been so intimidated at the very thought of writing a whole novel, just getting started was thrilling.  I have already worked out characters and an outline, so I have a specific direction to go.

I just hope I can keep it up, working full time (not to even mention my two hour a day commute, ugh) is going to mean I have a relatively narrow window of time each day to write, and I am going to have to do it every day or I'll get hopelessly behind.

Here I go, wish me luck!!


  1. Ellen, this is so are such a good's a no-brainer for you to write a novel!! I would buy it in a nanosecond!!

  2. ellen, how thrilling! Your commute to work is going to suddenly seem so much shorter, because your characters will be romping around in your head, and by the time you get to work, you'll have worked something out about your next 1,000 words! What a fabulous idea! I, for one, can't wait to read your novel. I will buy it in a heartbeat, you are such a wonderful writer with such a great sensibility.

    So I actually did write and publish a novel (and wrote another unpublished one that editors said was "too depressing" and have two half finished ones). It is such a guilty pleasure to write fiction. You are so accompanied by your characters, and when you're done, you really do miss them, and wonder what they're getting up to now. I am so excited for you!! I'll be here all month, cheering you on.

    What a fascinating approach nanowrimo is. You'll have the psychic energy of all those other people writing alongside you. Good luck. Enjoy the ride!

  3. Wow, you are both so wonderful!

    Tracey, thank you so much, your encouragement really means a lot to me.

    Angella, that's exactly it, the psychic energy of all those other people is a big part of what made NaNo so enticing to me. And the characters are starting to really take up residence in my head. I love it!

    I would absolutely love to read your novel, if you aren't reluctant to share that info with a stranger on the internet you can send me an email (my email address is listed on my profile). Actually, I'd like to read the one that's "too depressing" also. :)

    It means a lot to me to get supportive comments from two published writers! Thank you both SO much.

  4. Aw Cool Ellen! You've GOT to keep up with it and finish!!!! EEEEEE!!!!!!!!

    So. Will you post it when it's done???????? :)

  5. Well, I may not post the whole thing, but you can bet I will post ABOUT it when I'm done.

    So far I've been keeping up with it, and I am determined to finish.

    YAY. :)


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