When I wrote about starting Camp NaNoWriMo, I admitted that I was trying to trick myself into writing 50,000 words this month by not putting pressure on myself.
I’m not very smart. You can’t fool someone who knows the trick.
The plan was to start writing and see what happens, having no expectation of what I would produce in 50,000 words. I saw it as an exercise to get myself writing again, not as a way to produce a great novel. The trouble with making myself write, however, was that I found myself writing a story that’s been hiding in the back of my mind for the last couple of years.
Write What You Know
It’s the most common, and most controversial, piece of writing advice. I can’t say it’s something I generally follow, but every story I’ve written has had a piece of myself in it.
When I was younger, I had this obsession with individual stories, convinced that every person had a story to tell. To an extent, that’s true. We all have stories worth sharing over coffee, and then there are people with stories with having Leonardo Dicaprio running across a screen as us.
I’m not worthy of Leo. Or a female equivalent (I’d pick Anne Hathaway).
Then again, I’m young. I have plenty of time to hack into government files, start a revolution, or go on an extended crime spree. We’ll see on that part. For now, the best stories I have a lot like everyone else’s: They’re about relationships. I managed to hit all sorts in my early twenties – good, bad, healthy, unhealthy. Sometimes I wish I’d known someone who could relate. In reality, I probably did, but we don’t like to talk about the bad. We don’t like to admit the bad.
Plenty of books explore human relationships. I’m not pretending that what I have to contribute is new, but it’s human, and that’s what I want in a book about people.
My NaNoWriMo novel isn’t my story, but I’m listening to that old advice and writing about what I know. It sounds easier than I’m finding it, and every time I sit to write I find more challenges.
1. This isn’t a novel that I can write by dumping a large number of words on a page without a plan. I’ve dropped my word count goal signficantly. I feel okay doing this because Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing a 50k word novel so much as it is about meeting a challenge.
2. The main character is not me. Megan is a work of fiction, but she certainly has some of my traits and as well as similar experiences. I’m finding myself worrying about every idea, afraid that anyone who reads it will either assume it’s about me, or that my friends/family will assume other characters are supposed to be them. It’s not. They aren’t.
3. She needs to make mistakes. This problem is similar to problem number 2. Megan will not make my mistakes, but it’s hard not to unload those mistakes on her. Similarly, some part of me keeps worrying that, again, a family member will read it and begin to worry about me, assuming Megan is me and that I made those mistakes.
In reality, these aren’t difficult challenges. I know that many writers, especially those who produce a lot of work, face them on a regular basis, and don’t even consider them struggles. The problem is, I’m not a writer. I’m a girl with a blog and a couple of novels she’s written tucked in a trunk in her bedroom. This is all very new to me, especially since most of my past work has been fantasy. It’s pretty easy to say, “Pssssh, she isn’t based on me. She can blow up trees with her brain. I’m not that cool.”
Yes, I’m continuing. I should probably update my word count on the NaNo website… It hasn’t been the most inspiring place for me, so I haven’t rushed there every day. My goal now is more to see what I can produce with this novel this month. I want to write every day, as well as plan and develop every day. At the end of the month, I will probably set this story aside and go back to editing my last novel. I have the feeling this one will need to breathe awhile.