Last year, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I didn’t even come a little bit close to accomplishing that task and ended up scrapping the somewhere around 11,000 words I did manage to churn out. It wasn’t going where I wanted it to go, although I still want to work with the idea.
Well, it’s nearly a year later and because I signed up on the website, I’m getting e-mails almost daily reminding me that the challenge for 2010 is coming up in a few weeks. That means it’s been a year.
In this year, I’ve done some writing, but not nearly as much as I want or should do. I am nowhere closer to having a manuscript to shop to agents than I was a year ago. I am going to be 34 in December and my life is not what I planned.
Last week, Karen at A Peek at Karen’s World wrote about her novel-writing endeavors. In short, she talked about how she reads agent and writers’ blogs and that she knows what a long-shot it is that she will ever get published or make a living at writing. On a certain level, I understand that frustration. But at the same time, so many writers do make it. They get published. They sell enough books to quit their day jobs. They live that dream.
I’m as aware as the next aspiring writer that the odds, on paper, are against me. But I ignore those odds. Since I was in probably elementary school, somewhere in my mind I’ve always known that I was meant to be a writer. I was meant to be published and to get paid and to sell books to the world. It is not a matter of what I want to do for a career. It is a matter of who I am.
In a way, that holds me back. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid because that means I’m not as good as I think I am. And if I never try, I never have to face that as a possible reality. But what if I am as good as I think I am? If I never try, that will never be confirmed.
So a year later, I’m looking at the NaNoWriMo e-mails and remembering the possibility I saw last year. I’m remembering what it means to have a goal. Right now, I’m working on a weight loss goal that includes daily exercise and a disciplined following of the Weight Watchers program. I’m chronicling that on my other blog, The Girl Who Could (Formerly) Eat Anything. At the end of 30 days, I’m going to buy myself a present for completing the challenge. And with luck, I’ll have lost a few pounds, too.
I’m thinking of applying this same incentive to novel-writing and when better to do it than during NaNoWriMo? I think the best way to go about it is to set a minimum writing goal each day (1,667 words a day for 30 days would get me where I need to be) and report every day on this blog whether I met it and my feelings about what I’ve written.
I don’t know if it will work. There’s been a lot of outside stress in my life for the past several years that seems to get in the way of my creativity and I’m afraid sometimes that it’s gone for good, like a muscle atrophied from lack of use. I no longer know what I’m capable of.
But I know that where I am is not where I want to be in five years and there is only one way to even possibly achieve the goal I need to achieve in order to feel I’ve led a worthwhile life. It’s time to drop the dead weight in my life and work on getting there, wherever it is.