So I'm writing a novel. I'm forcing myself to say it that way, rather than the thing that would come easier: So I'm doing this nanowrimo thing. Every day since November 1st, save for one, I’ve written at least a few words of fiction. The first few days were easy. After day three, when my banished inner editor somehow managed to escape from his or her (I think maybe it’s a he, though maybe not. Actually no, definitely a thin faced woman.) cell (the first thing I did was lock her there, as per instructions), it got hard. If that sentence is any indication, I probably should not have, but that is exactly why she got locked up in the first place. There is no space, in noveling, for second guessing, because second becomes third and fourth and seventeenth, and then there’s no more writing happening. So, back to the start. For the first few days, she stayed where she was supposed to be. I may have heard some murmuring coming from way down below, but I was fairly well able to ignore her and just keep writing things down. Then, on day three, the thought:
This looks nothing like a novel.
How one is meant to recognize a novel with only about 5000 words written, I have no idea, but the thought was still there. To be fair, I had no real plot, no real end goal in mind, only vague meanderings towards a theme, and a character who was nothing more than a sense I had. Each time I sat down to write I just picked a point, whatever came to mind, and started. The first day’s writing had nothing to do with the second’s, and so on. So, I might have had a point, wondering where the novel was, but all it did was stop me. I found the next couple of days to be enormously difficult, feeling like I should be able to step lightly across mountain ranges, and instead moving slowly, at odd angles, stumbling here and there. I was able, quite quickly, to realize that this fear was doing nothing more than making this harder than it needed to be, so I decided to let go. It more or less worked. I can admit that it’s still there, a little, a thin layer of fear and shoulds (this should make more sense, I should figure out exactly what’s happening here, and so on), but I’ve done my best to muffle it with a blanket of bravado and the actual belief that not knowing what I’m doing is entirely okay. Maybe even magnificent. And that the point is not to write a perfect novel; the point isn’t even to write a novel – it’s to write a draft of a novel, in whatever form it’s managed to take. It feels sort of like there is this thing that is struggling to create itself, as if from scavenged materials, arms made of twigs and marbles for eyes, slowly taking form, and however monstrous it might be when it’s finished, it will still be something of a miracle.
In 15 days (ack, today is the halfway point, how terrifying) I will have written 50,000 words of fiction, a work that won't exist until I pull it out of wherever it is coming from and put it down on the page. That seems pretty magical, to me. I still don’t have a real plot, I don’t know my character as well as I’d like to, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to her or why, but I just keep writing things down, whatever comes to mind, and accepting that as all I need to do.