Today feels like spring. Sunny, breezy, and like many things could get done without rush, as did yesterday. And things have been done; writing, exercising, baking, laundry.
Speaking of writing, which I speak of often, sometimes I wonder how many people out there write without anyone else knowing. I think a lot of people do. Whether it’s fact or fiction, pen or laptop, I think a lot of people like the equal simplicity and complexity of words.
Have you ever thought about the bizarre world of words? How they can help you let go or keep you holding on. How some are so easy to get out but others struggle and don’t feel natural. How they can be so emotional or so stilted.
I’ve been getting a lot of my novel done in the past week. I only have a few more chapters that need revision and then I’ll be finished my second draft.
A year ago, all I had was two short stories that featured the same character. Ten months ago I put them in the same word document, managing to scrape 15,000 words, and named the document ‘my novel’.
Eight months ago I added a few paragraphs to ‘my novel’, but had no idea what order to put them in. The word document was made up of random thoughts that had no context, no characters, no way forward. I remember constantly thinking up new plot ideas, new characters, never settling on one idea. I shifted constantly between first and third person, constantly changed the protagonist’s personality, goals, background. I knew I wanted to write something that meant something, but I didn’t know what that looked like.
I’m not sure how, or when, that word document started to resemble structure. For so long I only had a few ‘chapters’, and then a section of the word document titled ‘random’, which had ten thousand words of jumbled mush.
What I do know is that somewhere between January 2018 (when I moved back home and had a lot of time on my hands) and April 2018 I had enough of a plot to participate in the April Camp NaNoWriMo.
At the end of April I had 60,000 words.
I don’t know how that small word document became a novel-sized one. I don’t know when my novel became something I could grasp onto, something that had direction and possibility. I don’t remember thinking this idea is right, this is the story I had to tell. Somewhere between moving back home and discovering NaNoWriMo, it happened naturally. There was never a moment where my novel ‘came to me’, or ‘clicked’, or ‘suddenly made sense’. I simply wrote and wrote until those random paragraphs made sense, held context, meant something to a character.
Amidst the jumbled mush there was something I wanted to say, but if I stopped and refused to smooth out those creases, I wouldn’t have found it.
Some authors write a novel in one week, some in one month. Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), wrote 3,000 words a day. Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms) wrote 500. Stephen King (Carrie) 2,000 and Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer) 1,400 words. Some authors are known for many books, others one or two. All of them are authors regardless of how long it took them to write a book.
Sometimes I think my book is taking too long. But then I look back, and it doesn’t matter. Because I see the amount of work and time I put into it and how far it’s come.
So many people, I think, have taken years to write a book. They write in between work and family and other commitments. They write in between cleaning the house and doing the groceries and going out of coffee. They write in between playing Sims and making playlists and complaining about the cold.
The point is, they write. Regardless of whether anyone else will ever read it, they continue.
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