Thursday, November 1, 2007

National Novel Writing Month starts

National Novel Writing Month started this morning at Midnight and goes for the entire month of November. The objective is to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. For reference, The Great Gatsby was about 50,000 words long. In case you're wondering, that works out to right at 1,667 words a day, or about three and a half pages in a normal Word document.

So this morning I dutifully sat down and wrote 1,667 words. I should preface this by saying that I have done some writing in the past, some of it quite good (that's just my opinion, but for these purposes it's the only one that matters). What I produced this morning was garbage. Really very bad writing. Right on up there with Vogon Poetry.

I thought that maybe I was exaggerating, but I just opened the document and started reading it, and couldn't stomach it. I wouldn't read what I just wrote if you paid me.

Part of me is a little depressed about this. I mean, after all the good stuff I've written in the past, the one time I make a committment to actually finish something, it really stinks.

But I'm going to continue with this. First off, the goal is to produce a first draft. As Hemmingway said, "The first draft of anything is shit". But more than that, it occurred to me that I'm a pretty good writer when you look at me at a tactical level-- I write funny sentences. I write pretty good paragraphs. I probably could (had have in the past) pull together a decent short story. But I have never even tried to maintain the strategic level required to write a full novel. So why should I expect it to be great the very first time I do it? I think what I mean to get out of this exercise is to prove to myself that I can do it, to learn the logistics of fitting writing into my life, and to get better at seeing a longer story from a strategic level.

Besides, I think I get a t-shirt or something for doing it.

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