But maybe connected at a deep level.
That unfinished novel and the ideas that die stillborn
Considering the glut of fiction that’s pouring out onto the web, maybe it’s just as well that so many people have problems finishing their novels or turning great ideas into actual text. But, as a late bloomer, I understand the pain. It’s easy to say that if you haven’t been writing, it’s because you don’t really want to write. It’s true that a lot of would-be writers are more in love with the idea of writing than with the serious work that has to go into it. Still, it may not be the right time in someone’s life, or they may not have figured out yet what’s holding them back. All I can say is: Don’t sabotage yourself by setting up unrealistic goals. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to have written your first novel by the time you’re 30, because if you haven’t, you’re going to feel like a failure. If you have what it takes to become a writer, the right time will come, not without struggle, but it will come.
Falling in love with characters yet to be written
I keep finding new reasons to love National Novel Writing Month. Most of it is about discovering my abilities, needs, and preferences when it comes to writing. I’ve learned that the easiest way to get through November is to be prepared. I’m not an outliner, and I’m not a pantser, but I do need to know my novel inside and out in order to spin out all the words in just 30 days. I learned that the hard way last year, when I made the word count, but failed to finish the novel. Three months of preparation just didn’t do it for me.
I’ve already been plugging away for a couple of months at this year’s novel, and I’m incredibly grateful to have so much time still ahead. I’m working with a much more complex plot this time, one that has yet to reveal all its ins and outs. If I had to do NaNo right now, I’d be heading for failure because I’m not good at thinking or creating under pressure. But plot isn’t the whole of it. I’ve fallen in love with my characters.
I’m a fly on the wall, watching my characters deal with their personal conflicts, bound by a system that has them all at its mercy, whether we see them as the good guys or the bad guys. There’s Hayden, the high school student, snatched out of his life to be educated to the government’s specifications. There’s Bennett, taken from his life and his career, to serve in too many capacities, some of which he considers morally reprehensible. And now there’s the Major, a career officer, thrown into a situation where he’s at war with himself. I’ve put them on a stage that’s barely dressed, and how they react will determine what the sets will look like in the future. With each note I write about them, each question that I ask, they become more real to me. With luck, by the time November rolls around, they will be fully rounded people who will tell me what they want to say and what they want to do. How can I help but love them?
Did you know that the spellcheck will identify duplicate words? It caught “the the.” It’s such a great spellchecker that I’ve seriously thought about putting chapters of my book into it.