NaNoWriMo Day #1: Has it always been this difficult?
Day 1 Wordcount: 1,681
Day 1 Morale: Discouraged and excited all at the same time
After a tough night of writing, I felt discouraged. I finally got the kids in bed, got a fire going in the fireplace and sat down to write. I promptly spent 90 minutes checking the results of our local elections, tracking the location of the incoming snowstorm, and doing everything I could to avoid starting this novel.
I made the word count (whew!) – not my planned 2,000, but at least I tipped the scales slightly above my NaNo prescibed 1,667. During NaNo 2009, I could dash off 1,800 in 45 minutes, but tonight it took me well over two hours. I’ve been wracking my brain to determine why the mental blocks went up tonight, and why my internal editor was tramping around in my head all day begging me to abandon this journey before it even began.
The reason, at least as far as I can figure, is that I love this year’s story with every ounce of my being. I love the characters and the plotlines that have tumbled around in my head for seven years. My first NaNo novel (the one that lies quietly jilted on my hard drive), was fascinating, but the idea was conceived in a bandwagon moment after I finished reading the Twilight series. No, it wasn’t vampires, but it was young, beautiful characters who were on the brink of a paranormal crisis. It was fantastical, it was easy and it was…well, lame. (For all you Twilighters out there, don’t get your undies in a bunch. I am in no way implying that Stephenie Meyer’s books are lame. I’m stating that my attempt at creating a paranormal coming-of-age scenario just wasn’t the right fit for me.)
My current story is so different from NaNo’09. It is emotional and complex. The characters are real – not the swooning MTV Teen Choice Awards characters that dappled the last NaNo manuscript. The situations are funny and heartbreaking (oftentimes in the same breath). My greatest fear is not doing them justice on the page. Just as dogs can sense fear, so can Internal Editor Barbie, and boy did she do a number on my psyche today. After two years of sold non-fiction work, my fiction chops are stiff. I need to work out the kinks.
Here’s the good news: I powered through, and got the words down on the page. I made some major discoveries along the way. In spite of my careful planning I still had those unanswered questions that can only work themselves out in drafts. Within the first 30 minutes I had solved the burning question of my MC’s career goals. I discovered that my description has come a long way since the last novel. Dialogue is typically my comfort zone in drafting fiction, but tonight, the dialogue was tight and the descriptive passages led to a few pretty remarkable images. Themes and symbols that I didn’t even know would be part of this story began surfacing left and right. And as I always say, even during the hardest writing session, these tiny gems of promise are what keep me coming back for more.
Am I scared that tomorrow’s session will be as tough as today’s? Absolutely. But tonight I typed through the fear and somehow emerged at the other end. Things happened in the scenes that I could never have predicted. A character took on a personality that I hadn’t imagined. Standing on the other side of fear is much better than being too scared to give something a try. I may not always feel talented or creative at the end of a writing session, but at least I feel brave. And when it comes to greater life lessons, brave means a lot more to me than creative. This is why I love NaNoWriMo. Happy writing!
How about all of you? How did your first day of NaNoWriMo go?