Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday, 25 November 2007 - Writing lessons

Dear God:

Today, I am thankful for writing lessons.

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
~Gene Fowler

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it. ~Jules Renard

On October 29, when I registered for the National Novel Writing Month(NaNoWriMo) challenge, I honestly did not believe that I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. My writing claim to fame is poetry. In fact, the poem for which I placed second in a national contest last summer consists of three Haiku for a total of 40 words (43 if you include the title). I think I wrote the poem in about 15 minutes. So, you can see how writing 50,000 words in 30 days intimidated me.

Then, November 1 arrived. I started writing. I had no idea what I was doing.

A NaNoWriMo veteran sent me an email, exhorting newbies like myself to write our 1700 word daily quota like our lives depended on it - no excuses allowed. The veteran said that it would take about two weeks for me to develop a rhythm. Then, I will find a story and a voice to tell it.

Well, that is exactly what happened to me. About half-way through the challenge, when I was a woeful 10,000+ words behind schedule and suffering from writer's block, I discovered my main charactor. To my delight, she had a compelling story to tell. So, instead of telling my story, I began to write hers. The light bulb went off. A serendipity. So that's one of the secrets of novel writing - to tell the character's story, not mine.

The writing came easily when I let my main charactor speak. 4,000 words a day - no problem. I reached the magic 50,000 word mark a week early. A good thing for S and T since I have other important things to do like grocery shopping, cooking, house cleaning and laundry. So, in my spare time, I continue to work on my novel. I plan to reach 60,000 words by November 30.

During my writing career, I have claimed several titles including poet, essayist, blogger, ghost writer and editor but never novelist. Now, I will gladly accept it after I finish writing my first novel. Novelist. It's a title that I am earning the hard way - by doing the painstaking work of crafting a story, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter.

Will I complete the NaMoWriMo challenge again? I think so. Now that I've been through it once, I will be better prepared next time for the 30-day roller coaster ride. I also know that, when I'm forced to write under heavy deadline pressure, my writing and writing strategies improve by leaps and bounds.

Finally, writing is my passion. Challenge or no challenge, I will write anyway. For me, writing is not a competition, but a journey.

For this blessing, I am grateful.


No comments: