Friday, 6 November 2009

I'm A Wanna Be Jo March


Until a couple of months ago I thought this meant some sort of chemical equation. I am not what you call science-y (obviously). It didn’t take long for me to work it out though; Twitter has become my new Wikipedia in terms of helpful (but mostly useless) knowledge. NaNoWriMo is of course the National Novel Writing Month that helps empower writers and raise money for charities.

So NaNoWriMo is this awesome month long endeavour when all writers (good and bad, published and unpublished, professional and amateur) put their nose to the grindstone and simply write. It sounds easy but most of us know that writing 1,667 words a day can seem impossible when you consider your everyday school or professional work and other home life considerations. I always thought it was hard...actually that’s not exactly true.

Early last year I rediscovered my love of writing through fanfic. Prior to that it was a pipedream squashed by parents suffering from terminal practicality. I am a trifle embarrassed by my fanfic experience but it was a great means in which to dip my toe back in the writing waters. Before that moment, I had always dreamt of being a writer. Not a successful writer, or even a good writer...just a writer. I had visions of being Jo March all bundled up in a drafty attic with a truly ugly hat on my head, scribbling away by candlelight. In the six months that I wrote fanfic (mostly FNL, my love of the show knows no bounds or horrific injustice to their fantastic writing) I got into a great rhythm. I was writing between two and four thousand words a day. But more importantly, I was developing my writing of dialogue. In attempting to sound like a character from television I learned about a character’s individual voice and how important that is from tone, to vocab, to just knowing the character. While fanfic is usually bad (I readily agree that mine’s in with that batch), it was a great means in which to develop some of my skills.

I had an audience of which I was inordinately proud. They would also tell me how fantastic I was at conveying the depths of mystery in Tim Riggins. How funny they found a specific line and how they thought a certain kiss could steam windows up. It did wonders for my confidence. Of course now I realise that a lot of their enjoyment came from characters well and truly established on the show and really had nothing to do with my writing. This rich characterisation is something I still need to learn. Another moment of reality was witnessing my ardent admirers rave over the extremely ordinary writing of other FNL fanfic-ers that made me realise that there was still a long way to go. That being said, getting a positive review online from, all these many months later, still feels good, no matter how false I believe it to be.

I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo at the beginning of September and immediately declared that I was crapping myself. I wasn’t kidding. I abruptly stopped writing fanfic in the latter months of last year (sorry to those people that were cut short reading Quicksand) when work got out of control and I lost the enthusiasm. I lost my rhythm. I started NaNoWriMo having been on a year plus writing drought. While some people might give me credit for writing plenty on the blog and having a good rhythm didn’t count. It’s completely different to write a narrative than writing a personal opinion piece or a review. In the latter’s case the preparation is minimal, you come to the table with your thoughts. And yet, despite this knowledge, when November 1st came around I had not prepared.

I am now entering Day 6 of NaNoWriMo and I have hit that wondrous 10k mark. Something I could never have contemplated a week ago. Not only have I done it but I have managed it around a torn back ligament, pain meds, immobility and a horrific few days at work. I can do it. Does this mean that I will be successful in hitting the 50k mark? Not necessarily. Does this mean my words will be any good, my characters realistic, my dialogue snappy or my story flow? No. But NaNoWriMo is more that the result, it’s the process and the self-realisation and development that come from it. What have I realised? That it’s possible, that one day I might be able to live out a decidedly more modern existence as a weekend Jo March.

If you’d like to follow my progress (or lack thereof) you can befriend me via NaNoWriMo here.


Steph Su said...

Adele, you may say that blog posts don't really count (and yes, I agree that it's a different kind of writing than fiction), but blog posts like this one still show clearly that you are an incredible writer. I hope you find energy, solace, relaxation, and inspiration in your NaNo project through your--oof!--painful-sounding physical ordeals. And congrats on 10K! :)

Ash said...

I'm really enjoying NaNo so far, it's a different kind of writing from what I normally do (Creative Nonfiction) and even though half of what I'm writing is crap I feel like I'm getting a lot out of it. You're doing great!

Melanie said...

I hope you enjoy NaNo-ing! I don't have time this year, but I'm definitely looking to be a part next year. Good luck and happy writing!

Karen Mahoney said...

Congrats on such great progress, dude - especially under those circumstances! Ugh. Poor you. :(

But yay! Writing!! :)


The Book Owl said...

I wanted to let you know that I gave you an award here at my blog:


Unknown said...

Go you! I signed up for NaNo in order to plod through book four...but have since got an extension on my deadline due to other overwhelming deadlines, etc.

Here's to you surviving all the way to the 50K mark (I know you can do it!) and to improved health as well.