Around a Novel in 80 Days – An Update

On October 31st, my self-initiated project draws to a close. Around 80 days ago, I decided that I am tired of existing in the gonna-do-it-someday realm of wanna-be writers. It occurred to me that the only way anything would happen with my writing is if I actually began.

I know, I know, this seems like a ridiculously simple realization. While I understood this logically before, it really hit home just how much I wanted to write, and how silly it was to hold myself back.

So, I began.

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I began my own version of the contest, in which I planned to write my first novel in the months leading up to November. By my plan, I would write 700 words a day, to help prepare me for the rigorous word count demands brought by NaNoWriMo.

I dubbed this project “StoffelNoWriMos”, and waded hip deep into writing a novel, charging forward into the murky abyss, trudging ever forward, ever upward.

Somehow, I (narrowly) escaped the urge to break said tablets
in a fit of rage. It helps that no one built a golden idol to some
other story god in this process. 

I’m happy to report that I have emerged triumphant.

From the abyss, I strode (or stumbled), and descended the mountain, carrying with me the tablets (with embedded flash memory and USB support) inscribed with the delicate carvings, a testament to the creative breath issued forth from the god of the story set before me.

My wife was quick to cover my glowing face with a cloth. My best friend urged her to replace it with a paper bag.

A beautiful novel had come forth, and all bowed in reverence.

Okay, okay, it may not have been quite that dramatic. (Imagery inspired by “The Writer’s Prayer”, found in Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey, by Chuck Wendig)

But hey, it’s pretty cool, having a first draft.

Technically speaking, I did not keep up with my numeric goals.

I did not write every day. Some days, I wrote, and I did not reach 700 words. I set an arbitrary target of 50,000 words, and my manuscript clocks in at ~36,000 words.

I still feel like a winner. I had skirted around this story for years, always thinking about when I was going to do it, in the nebulous ‘later’. Now, though, it exists. It has tangible substance somewhere outside of my brain.

My confidence goes through various states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, and plasma are actually rather fitting metaphors for my typical confidence levels). Having a (mostly) finished draft did not fill me with ultimate glee, but I sure feel better about my ability to complete a project.

If one were to draw a tidbit of useful advice from this experience, it should probably be:

Finish something. 

Projects started and abandoned are anchors to confidence, and for this metaphor to work, your confidence needs to fly free.

In the meantime, I also managed to write a short story (not my typical form) and begin to prepare for NaNoWriMo.

If you add all of this together, it’s pretty significant, at least to me.

Three months ago, I was a restless, grumbling slacker who sometimes felt pointless.

Now, though, I have undergone a veritable metamorphosis, dear reader.

Today, I am a restless, grumbling slacker who sometimes felt pointless, and IS ALSO WRITING.

…and is also partially
zombified. It happens.

A subtle difference, some may say, but a great one.

If I had abandoned this after a few thousand words, I probably would have abandoned this whole writing idea. (I almost put in “That’s all she wrote,” but that just does not play well here.) My shaky confidence could not have survived such a blow.

Now, though, I find myself excited about the future. I get giddy thinking about the fun ways to twist the emotions of reader and characters alike, new possibilities for what I will write, instead of what I might eventually do.

Back from the heady rush of glee, I understand this is just a first draft. There’s still so much work to be done before my novel is ready to be distributed. And, you know what? I’m okay with that.

Each day is its own struggle to continue the momentum that I’ve gained, but I now at least feel like it’s possible to succeed.

Let’s see if I can take that feeling into November! (Spoiler alert: I can.)

2 thoughts on “Around a Novel in 80 Days – An Update

  1. @writingallwrong:

    I wrote the first book in a short series, tentatively titled “Simulacrum”.

    A man discovers he was created by a secret society of telepaths, and is now responsible for salvaging their failing plan to save the world.

    That’s the closest I’ve ever come to a working one-sentence description. Go me! :)

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