educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
Last month, I attempted to complete the Nanowrimo challenge on my 40-by-40 list, but I didn’t make it. I didn’t even come close. The challenge was to write an entire novel in the 30 days of November (National Novel Writing Month, hence the abbreviated moniker Nanowrimo).
For simplicity’s sake, a novel was defined by the Nanowrimo folks as an original work of fiction with a minimum of 50,000 words. By the time the month ended, I had written 9137 words.
I did, however, learn a valuable lesson. Writing a novel is tough…writing a novel in 30 days is tougher…BUT it is damn near impossible to write one in 30 days doing it the way I did it. My novel’s main character was a high school history teacher, and I spent a week and a half researching the Jazz Age (the literature, the music, the politics, etc.) so I could make sure he sounded authentic. I even found a volume in the library of some reprints of a now defunct newspaper from the mid-1920s.
In other words, I found clever ways to rationalize my procrastination.
When I finally started writing, I focused more on creating absolutely perfect chapters instead of just getting the words out. (I discovered later that the folks who successfully complete the Nanowrimo challenge do so by writing quickly, writing imperfectly, and sometimes writing nonsensically.)
I had trouble doing that, and so I only wrote three and a half chapters. I researched and typed and edited simultaneously…and in the middle of all this I was still revising the dissertation to get it ready for printing. Oh yeah and working and fathering and husbanding and all that.
But I figure that is all a great big excuse. I could’ve completed the challenge if I would have simply stuck to the original plan of 1700 words per day.
The good thing that came from this challenge is that I have a couple of good characters in a great story idea that I hope to finish someday.