Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wrote a novel in 25 days

Purposely omitted the exclamation sign in the title. For, by now, it's not about an announcement, per se. (OK.  One more peek at my Winner badge...)

It really is more like a quiet and sobering realization. Imagine taking up the challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days, on the 5th day in! At the start, I was behind, but knew I wanted to do it anyway. I went at it with the appropriate number if butterflies in my stomach.

The organizers (NaNoWriMo)knew what they were talking about wrt the reliable muse of public humiliation. That helped. But, in the end, what did I learn? About writing? About my ability? About relationships?

Writing a novel is hard. It is like ... well, it's UNlike anything else I've ever done. (I hear it's like giving birth, but I don't have first hand experience of that yet.) First, you wonder, why did I set out to do this again? And, after you've convinced yourself that it makes sense to do it, (for whatever your reason), you find that it's harder than you imagined. You then pause, having begun, (and knowing that others are watching you try to accomplish the feat), to ask yourself whether you really like writing or whether you like the IDEA of writing or being a writer. (Gotta say, it's a lovely idea.)

Once you've convinced yourself that you are indeed a writer and you don't just like the idea of writing or being a writer, you proceed. And, at some point, it hits you, you are not alone in whatever state you may find yourself. Even the best of the best; the New York Times-bestselling authors; the Scotiabank Giller prize winners; former WriMos et al, have gone through similar gut-wrenching, daunting, black-hole-engulfing feelings. It's a myriad questions and anxieties and what not. And you still have to keep at it, even when you feel you're making 10 steps backward for every one page finished; disliking the very story you're writing...

I was careful not to write "about self-discovery" - with good reason. This, however, deals with discovering - and not in a Chris Columbus kind of way - that I do in fact have that thing in me to complete a book. Well, it's not one thing, (although there is one thing that is essential without which I couldn't do it), but a number of things working in tandem. Having believed for a looong time that I am a writer - so many people have told me, they couldn't all be wrong; I began to embrace the evidence myself a while back, too - I knew I could achieve that feat in one fell swoop. So, it was a personal challenge; an extraordinary 'note-to-self'. And, in the end, it was done. I discovered the ability to do something I had never done before.

What does that mean? For one, I now feel way more confident in helping my dad write his book. That one has been a long time coming. Two, I am confident that I can write another novel and another. Having opened my eyes and mind to the lessons and tips along the way, I have even begun to think that perhaps a collection of short stories is (finally) in order. The moral of the story? They're all within reach. Just need to extend my hand - even if it means a bit o' tip toe effort - and grab 'em!

I recently changed my @cyopro Twitter profile text (Yes. Again.) to read something along the lines of 'only you will ever be you and let's use our talent to the last drop.' I think it's important - and possibly, life saving - to resolve and take the necessary steps not to die with it inside. So, even before all this when I was encouraging people to be the best they can; say what they have to; breathe... and all that, it was against the backdrop of leading by example. Not just talking the talk. To roll the sleeves up and do it can be so inspiring to others. Now, I smile when I realize that I've done that. And, sometimes, we just need to be inspired.

Ummm...these don't end just because you're writing. Relationships, like life, continue irrespective of whether you are writing, thinking about writing or thinking about what to write. The quality of them might change just a tad. By that I mean frequency of calls and get-together (and knowing that the people from the gym might call, again, 'cause long-time-no-see!) and such. But, the ones that really matter? The relationships with your mom, your dad, your siblings, your tightest friends (not the 500+ on fb - not knocking it, just sayin'), remain solid. 'Cause they know you. Well. They understand that your 'free' time is devoted to writing and schedules are made around the writing. They occasionally enquire on how it's going but not so often you feel annoyed, especially when you haven't met your word-count for the day. They are supportive and helpful and are your biggest cheerleaders and critics - sometimes embodied in the same person. (Right @MizDurie?)

In short. They get it. They get you. And there is glorious comfort in that.

So, I've tweeted about my little challenge for December - to read one novel per week for the month. The idea is to tap into the beautiful works of my fav authors and see where and how mine falls short.  I'm on it. Now reading Robin Cook's "Vital Signs".

The idea of my novel stemmed from my idea for a play. So, there are three things I'm working on now, as I seek to use my God-given talent well - the novel, the play and the book of short stories. This doesn't mean other projects are excluded. Nope. Like I said, "to the last drop."

And, as has long been my main concern about that to which I put my hands: "Do I make Him proud?"


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