Friday, November 30, 2012

A Novel Experience

Unbelievably, I delivered the goods, rising to the NaNoWriMo challenge of committing 50,000 words to paper in thirty days. How? If you’d told me on Halloween that I’d write a novel’s worth of prose before December, I’d have laughed in your face. But there’s something about specific goals and deadlines that brings out the scrapper in me. It was infuriating to struggle against the clock, short of inspiration, bereft of ideas, with no time to research. But it worked.

Now I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s awful, most of it, so much so that I’m afraid to look. This exercise has made me question whether I could ever actually write a book. I had to beg, borrow, cheat and steal. I bumped off a few good characters. I pitted siblings against each other. I cried. I cursed. The horse disappeared and never came back. The rest of the people who invaded my brain for the last month, well, I could care less if I ever see them again. The weren’t cooperating, anyway. I hate them, every one.

There’s a reason I went into advertising — pithy headlines, I can churn those out all day. But a novel? Maybe there are some seeds of a story in the pile of pages I produced. I honestly don’t know. I ploughed through it, though, so I’ll allow myself the luxury of following Audrey Niffenegger’s advice: “Now that it is December, I hope you will kick back, have a cup of coffee, reread your 50,000 words, ponder a bit, and then… go for a walk.” That… that, I can do.


  1. I'll share a sliver of excruciatingly-earned wisdom with you: there's a very first, number-one person in all the world who has absolutely no right to any kind of an opinion on a recently completed work of book-length fiction: the author. You are literally insane on the topic. It's possible you might be able to see the work. But it's at least as likely you'll see angels and demons, acid-trip grotesqueries, the beginning and end of worlds.

    Come back in six months or a year, and then we might listen to what you think about this book. (Better yet, give it to someone else to read in the meantime.)


  2. Agree with Michael above. Congratulations are certainly in order here. And at very minimum there are seeds. And seeds are precious, and they grow. You've given me inspiration.