Happy New Year, Adventurers!
I hope you had a wonderful December, and that writing is high on your list of New Years Resolutions. I know it’s true for me, but as usual, it’s a slow process. That’s why I want to blog about it today, but rather than kick myself for what I haven’t achieved, the purpose of this post is to say to myself, and to others like me, that dude, you need to chill.
I’m kind of hoping you didn’t notice my lack of check-ins as of late. The last time I checked-in, Past-Me served Future-Me an ultimatum: to either finish Figment, or shelve it for the time being. NaNoWriMo was looming, plot bunnies were multiplying in my head like… bunnies, and I craved the clean slate of a new project.
Nice try, Past-Me. Future-Me does not pander to your demands! You’ve got no power here!
Suffice to say, I did not finish Figment, nor did I shelf it. In November, I wrote 50k new words of Figment, aka How To Disappear Completely. It is frowned upon by NaNoWriMo to work on an existing project, but since they were new words, I didn’t cheat. I endeavoured to try to finish the story by the end of December, but as Jenny and I learned last year when we first created TGNA, December is an awful month to try to get anything productive done in.
So why am I so chipper? Shouldn’t I be deep in the throes of self-flagellation? Isn’t this the time in my fail cycle where I tell myself it’s never going to happen, and that I should burn my words in a sacrificial fire and resign myself to a life where I am no longer a writer, just another body on the earth?
I am okay with my lack of progress because this is my story, and I only need to write it for myself. No one wants this story more than I do. I don’t have an agent or an editor waiting for it. Sure, my friends and family would like to read it, and I’d love to be able to do the Judd Nelson victory fist pump when I’m done, but right now? It’s mine. I’m the only person who matters right now, and I need to let myself believe that.
Those of us who are on The Great Noveling Adventure are all unagented writers, so we’re at a very free point in our careers. This, hopefully, will be the only time where we are writing outside of a deadline. The next chapter of our journeys will be so exciting, but I’m sure we’ll long for the days when it was up to us whether we wrote or not, where we wouldn’t let anyone down if we took some time to ourselves instead of writing.
Since having this epiphany, I’ve read every word I wrote for NaNoWriMo and edited the bejaysus out of my novel. I’ve identified a character who needs to be axed (which is sad, but not sad enough, which only serves to prove my point), figured out how to make a few scenes tighter and more natural, and come out of the other side of my NaNo with more than 30k to show for myself. I haven’t added it to all I had before because it needs polishing, but I’m quietly confident with where the story is going.
And this is my story.
If you’re like me and you’re struggling through your novel, trying saying it aloud: this is my story. I’m the only one who can tell it, I’m the only one who can write it, so I will write it when I can. There will be good days and there will be bad days. There will be days where the words come easy, like the story is so familiar that it has already been told. There will be days where every word will be reluctant, every sentence redundant. That is writing. It’s the game we choose to play.
So, in lieu of a proper check-in where I set myself a goal that I will inevitably fail, I’m going to say this: by next month, I’ll be a little further along. I’ll let you know how much further when the time comes.
Happy writing, everyone!