So yesterday, the peeps of Team NaNoWriMo asked on Twitter when we knew we were a writer.
Truth is, I still don’t know. When I was 14 – and that is half a lifetime away now – I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I wrote, I even started my first book. I wrote short stories. One story even involved a love affair of some ordinary girl (me) and a vampire. Gosh, I could be rich by now. But alas. When I grew older, I thought it unrealistic to achieve my goal and really become a writer. I knew I could write, my texts were witty, funny, utterly sarcastic, but I never managed to actually finish a story. When I finished school, I still didn’t know what I could do other than write. I thought about becoming a gardener, a photographer, a tailor. But after my last exams in school I realized I was pregnant. Every dream I ever had came to a halt. And since I didn’t want my daughter to be an only child, I got pregnant again.
Then I had two kids and still no idea what I wanted to be other than a mom. I wrote about my daily adventures with my girls, and this made me realize again what the one thing is I do best. It may not seem that way, since English is not my first language, but I’m really good with words. Written words, anyway. Make me talk in front of real people and I stumble over that slippery puddle of quirky sentences in my head.
So, when I was 25 and my girls both in Kindergarten, I started studying German Language and Literature. Right the first academic told us that we’re wrong here if we wanted to write. I followed through anyway, got my degree with two kids and everything in six semesters like a normal student, and I wasn’t even bad. And although I love books, I love literature, I came to deteste the pretentious academical world.
But that first academic was not totally right with his statement. I learned a few things about writing. Not technique, but how to research and how to endure the bleakest and most stressful times, and those two abilities were the most precious to me. But my final lesson, the one that showed me that I really am a writer came shortly after I finished studying. I submitted a short story to a prose writing contest of my alma mater in coop with a scientific publishing house, and I made third place. My story got published, and so I could call myself a published writer.
The lesson I learned there was that I had to dare to be a writer. The daring part is the most difficult for me. Since I finished studying, I wrote down first drafts for two novels, from beginning to end, and NaNoWriMo helped me a lot there, in showing me that I really could write a book from start to finish. But I haven’t submitted my manuscripts anywhere. I haven’t looked for agents or publishers. Yet. The daring still is the biggest difficulty.
But there is never a challenge so big you can’t get past it. That’s another lesson I took with me from my studies. You may think there’s no possible way you can do this, but you can, if you only dare.
Sometimes, reading about general principles of character developing can give you a moment of epiphany. Oh, how I cherish those moments! Especially when I suddenly know that my character in question is behaving perfectly IN CHARACTER. Nothing more frustrating than those awkward out of character moments.
So today, I trolled the Writer’s Digest site, just to keep me from writing a little longer. Rolling the path my hero has lying ahead of her over and over in my head. I read about reaction to frustration, and then it just clicked. She runs away. She does it constantly, everytime someone brings her near boiling point, she just turns around and walks away. So it was really natural for her to do it again and only get in bigger trouble. Everything clicked. I realized what had to happen, I realized where I had to revise my plot, where my first draft had gone wrong. So now, I’m really happy.
Well, one thing bothers me, though. I hate it to cut words out (just the words – not the scene) during NaNoWriMo, or, in this case, CampNaNoWriMo. It’s ok to revise little chunks at a time, cutting 100 words here and writing 400 there, but this is a really big piece of the cake. Funny, how reluctant I get when it comes to my precious words. But now, with my path so clear before me, I’m in a flow. Until the time comes when I have to reunite my storylines. Then I’m probably stuck again. But I’m not the type to worry about the future. And besides, the more you write and think about your story, the more ideas come to your mind. To get inspiration to visit, you have to work and set up a nice home.
Oh, seriously. Day 3 of CampNaNoWriMo and I’m already out of motivation. Ok, perhaps it’s the lack of sleep (I drifted off around four in the morning). I know perfectly well what I want to write, what I need to write, I just don’t want to…you know what. Maybe it’s only today and tomorrow, everything will be perfectly fine. Maybe later today, I’ll find my motivation. But right now… I’m not going to fall off the wagon. I just want a break. And I have to accept that it’s perfectly fine to have a day like this. To give myself some rest. Beating myself up won’t change anything. It’ll only increase my inner resistance. That still small voice is allowed to shut up for a change. I just have to make sure to resume writing tomorrow.
Camp NaNoWriMo, day one: I didn’t feel the typical NaNoWriMo-Anticipation yesterday, but I feel it today. I couldn’t sleep, so I read two chapters of my WIP and decided what to change, what to add, what to delete. I may have forgotten what it was, but I trust my brain enough to recognise it again when I read it.
I changed my wordcount-goal last minute from 80K (complete work, counting in the 63K I’ve already written) to 20K (that I actually have to write to reach 80K).
Since I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, I measure my works in words. It may be more accurate or meaningful to count pages, but I feel much more satisfied counting words. My sense of accomplishment tells me, that 5000 words are more than 10 pages. (I don’t know if 5K translate actually to 10 pages, or 20, but that doesn’t matter now). And I love the satisfaction it creates, when I export my 60-something-K to manuscript pages and see full of amazement, how much I actually wrote! That’s part of my reward at the end.
So, do you prefer to count pages or words? And why?
This April, I’m participating in CampNaNoWriMo for the first time. I participated and won in NaNoWriMo twice, but everytime when November was gone, so was my motivation. My goal for Camp is to edit one of my NaNovels. I’m currently at 60K, and I’m planning on bolstering up those plot holes, flat tires and shallow pools all over the place. My wordcount goal is 80K, but deep down I think that 100K would be better. As I’m never going to accomplish that, I want the 80K. Wait, you think, isn’t editing about cutting out, kill your darlings and yada yada yada…? Well, yeah. Normally, I’d agree. But personally, I write very sketchy. Give me the task to write an essay of one and a half page and I’ll be struggling to even get to page two. Tell me to write a thesis of fifty pages, I end up with thirty. Fourtyfive if I’m lucky. Once something is said, it’s said. Plain and simple. I’m not the elaborating type, never was. Therefore, editing means filling holes with me.
So, am I a Camp NaNo rebel? Uh, that would be exciting!