In a little less than five months I will attempt the JulNoWriMo and in 30-days finish my first true novel. Four storylines in various stages of completion. The one I have settled on for this project is the one that, though it is arguable the least complete, I ironically have the clearest idea of its arch: exposition, rising action, climax and resolution. Over the next 19 weeks I will be getting all my ducks in a row preparing for the effort. I am using Victoria Schmidt’s Book in a Month system as a guide and am presently building character profiles for my main characters and working on an outline of events. Both the outline and character files will be detailed. I am deeply concerned with creating believable, dynamic and round characters which are interesting and sympathetic enough to keep a reader concerned and curious for the course of a book. I believe this is the key to a successful story. I believe there are no “new” stories out there, but there are old stories told in new ways. Critical to this philosophy is solid characterization. Further, I know my own strengths and weaknesses and without an clear outline of where I am headed, I will flounder or become distracted with some tangent and fail to reach the mark in 30 days, thus a detailed outline will also be a critical component to my success.
What then is the goal I intend to reach in 30 days? I want a complete novel of between 50 and 80,000 words by July 31, 23:59. The former number is the stated goal of the JulNoWriMo and with it comes with certain bragging rights. I am not so much concerned with the rights as I am with being part of something larger, a community of writers who support, encourage and inspire each other to reach a mutual goal: a rough novel manuscript in 30 days.
To what end this site? It has many purposes. First it gives me a sense of audience; even though it is not available to search engines or the public at large, it is still “out there” and therefore, even though the idea of an audience is partially illusionary, I will write in a more public rather than personal way. Second as I plan to post each days product—with all its blisters and boils—and the site will act as a chronicle of my efforts, a measurement that even if I do not ultimately reach my word count goal will serve as a testament of effort. Third, I plan to invite some of my closest friends and relatives to “watch” and witness the novel’s genesis. They will be my “sense” and “continuity” police, both my guardian angels and my harrowing hounds as knowing they are “watching” will goad me to reach my goal. They will NOT, however, act as editors in the classic sense. They will NOT correct my grammar, punctuation or usage. Writing 50 to 80,000 words in 30 days will involve a serious amount of time at the computer hammering out 1667 to 2667 words a day. Considering this post alone is 950+ words and took me almost two hours to compose, without continuity or contemplative concerns to slow me down, such breakneck speeds can and will produce errors. With 30 days in which to compose, I will have little or no time to proof read or correct. If the Hounds want to be part of that process, they will have to wait until the appropriate time after the JulNoWriMo project is over.
Finally this site represents my effort to finally do something that I have always dreamed of doing but believed that I did not have the time or discipline to do. Honestly I still feel I do not have the discipline or time; I still have my doubts and negative thoughts, but it is time to make the attempt despite my misgivings. This attempt is a very real and true life-line. It is more than just writing a novel, it is an attempt to regain a sense of self and well being I have recently lost.
After almost 20 years of teaching—placing my family second, neglecting my interests and sacrificing my health all in the name of doing a “good job”—in less than a year the administration and board of the N____D have robbed me of the joy of teaching. Members have gone out of their way to belittle and destroy any sense of positive civic contribution or belief in myself as a professional. At one time I truly felt that I was “called” to be a teacher just like a pastor is, but after the mauling suffered at the hands of those who have the power to do so, their professional consultants telling me point-blank that the creative dedicated teachers of the past are not longer needed, teaching is now simply a job. It pays the bills and provides me with sustenance, but it is no longer my calling. I need something else, but there are few places one can market a degree in English. Hence, this novel will be this life-line.
I have no illusions, however, about what will come of this first concerted attempt. I have no unrealistic expectations about its quality or its publication, none at all. Indeed, I expect it to languish on a shelf or in a computer file somewhere, viewed only by family and friends, a monument to effort more than anything else. A “normal” novel, say Sanderson’s Mistborn for example is nearly 300,000 words in length and almost 600 pages long and that is considered a medium length novel! An 80,000 word target would only yield 175 pages (at an average of 11 words per line and 450 words per page). At the very least, however, it will be the first step on an evolutionary scale, a beginning. It will not be my last novel, but it will be my first, and that in and of itself is something. As for the future, I just have to keep writing …who knows what the tide will bring in?
Originally posted in the now deleted Marchers of Khaldenthea blog and The Salamander’s Quill 1.0