The concept of National Novel Writing Month has always intrigued me. I mean, the idea of writing a whole book (albeit a very rough first draft) in a month is slightly insane. But simultaneously, brilliant.
I’ve been *trying* to write a book for the past year and a half-ish, and to be honest, I haven’t progressed anywhere near as much as I hoped I would. Believe it or not novel-writing, well…it isn’t so easy! In fact it’s impossibly hard at times, not to mention infuriating. My biggest downfall is the fear of the blank page. As well as an inability to let go of my inner perfectionist/editor and just write. It’s this internal desire to be amazing that paralyses me whenever I read back over a cluster of words I’ve just written. If they don’t sound great, I immediately think I can’t do it, I recoil, shake my head and mutter, ‘My word, you are terrible at this. Stop at once before someone sees!’
In fact I’m incredibly introverted about my creative writing and I haven’t shown even one tiny soul so much as a word of my work. Until Sunday. I decided it was about time that I read my boyfriend Oli a little something. So I did. In the car, on the way back from seeing friends. Just a tiny snippet. And quite unexpectedly I felt so ridiculous reading it, so pretentious as I mumbled my way through what felt like a messy assault course of words. And then I cried because what a lot of dribble I’d written. Oli’s opinion wasn’t remotely negative but I couldn’t accept his kind words. Mainly because I couldn’t really decipher them over the tidal wave of disappointment roaring and lapping away inside me. I felt foolish and so ‘unlike’ a writer. I was full of the overwhelming thought of ‘You’re NOT a writer. Not even a bit.’ And nothing holds you back like fear of not being successful, or not being good enough or not being worth a read.
But my tears served to remind me how much I want to finish this flippin’ book and how very much I want to hold it aloft, shake it in people’s faces and say ‘This is it. This is my book. Even if it is horribly bad, I’ve still written a BOOK. Here it is!’
So this year I’ve decided – rather foolishly, I’ll admit – to jump on the National Novel Writing Month bandwagon. And somehow with a full-time job and a busy life (that may soon cease to flourish), I plan to pen a novel. In 30 small days. That’s a total of at least 1,677 words a day.
And it will most probably be full of gaping holes and mistakes, clichés and cringes galore but it will be a mass of hurried words that will amount to something nonetheless. That with a lot of further pain and sweat and deliberation will one day blossom into the novel or novella or collection of vignettes that I know I have to create.
I plan to be fearless and bold, safe in the knowledge that every day is a step closer to completing a first draft, knowing all the while that first drafts are meant to be dire. Half the art or writing, is rewriting. And then re-writing some more.
But at least by the end of November, I’ll have 50,000 words, to work with. Something to polish, to cut, edit, cull from and refine. And when I’ve finished hacking away at it, I’ll start to see the gold that will be there. Because amongst the bad there is always good.
I want to find my voice, my style and tone and contribute to the volumes and tomes that line libraries, bookshops and quaint shelves all over the world. It’s time to stop thinking, and worrying and second guessing, I have to stop resigning before I’ve even properly tried. This is my life. No one else is going to make it better for me, I’m not going to wake up one day and find myself on the Times Bestseller list. I have to make it happen. Myself. Nothing worth doing is easy.
‘It’s not WHO you are that holds you back. It’s who you THINK you’re not.’
I am a writer. I CAN do this. Wish me luck…