I wrote a novel in 30 days. My first ever. In fact, it’s the first piece of fiction I’ve written since the third grade, unless you count all the bios and press releases I wrote as a publicist in Los Angeles. Those were pretty close to fiction but don’t tell anyone.
This was different. I wrote 50,000 words about the zombie apocalypse in the month of November, a month when my husband was also on deadline for a book he was writing and actually getting paid for. A month when a four year old child got less than average attention from her word count crazed mama. A month that included Thanksgiving and all the planning, cooking and cleaning that goes with it. I averaged two hours of writing time, five days a week – the hours my daughter was in preschool.
I loved every minute of it. I was in Heaven! At 45 years of age I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Here’s hoping I don’t suck.
So what comes next? Well, for one, I have to finish the novel. I thought 50,000 words would get me there but it looks like I’m going to need twice that to tell my story. It just won’t be rushed. Sometimes it feels like the ending, which I’ve already written, is getting farther away instead of closer. Am I driving toward it or am I writing a different story?
Before I got started on this project, I thought that story decisions would be mine. At least initially. Editors might have a say, friends could have input but the big stuff would be in my hands since I’m the one writing it.
I’ve learned otherwise. Characters and stories have a life and mind of their own. Once I sit down to write I have a basic idea of where I’m going but then the typing starts and the inner editer gets shut down and suddenly I’m in a different world. Characters I never planned for introduce themselves and occasionally takeover, plots shift and outlines get tossed. The few times I tried to force my characters to act the way I intended resulted in writer’s block. I’d mull and mull over how to move forward until eventually I’d give in to what I already knew. Yesterday’s writing was all wrong and must be tossed. Start again from before you meddled and all will be well in the world.
Now tossing out 2,000 words might not seem like a big deal but when you’ve got two hours a day, five days a week to reach 50,000 words in 30 days and Thanksgiving is looming large, it can hurt. A lot. One might even cry if one were so inclined. But the payoff… ahh, the payoff. When the words flow, the relief is physical. The joy is tangible. I get to bring it home and share it. The joy I mean. Not the book. My husband isn’t in to fiction and my daughter is too young for zombies. But they’re both into joy.
And that is how I know this is right.