Friday: now 14 pages a novelist
So a funny thing happened (not so much funny-ha-ha, but funny, as in weirdly fateful).
I started a new novel back in December, except I didn’t know it was a new novel when I was writing it. It was right after NaNoWriMo, where in the space of a month, I wrote almost 38,000 words for some ambiguous version of that bumbling first novel I was working on. And immediately after – seriously, like four days later – I got up out of bed in the middle of the night and I wrote the Story That Killed My Novel, the story that blew my novel into a million pieces and a big fat fiery ball of flames. The reason being, even though I was using the same characters for both stories, the two worlds simply could not coexist. And this very short story, just four pages, was so much more important (one of those impossible conflicts that no matter what choice they make changes their whole world) that I just couldn’t look back at my silly little attempt at a story with any seriousness.
That first novel was, in fact, called The World Could Explode. How prophetic.
It was astounding timing! Seriously just four days after wrapping up NaNoWriMo. It was as if I had just finished purging every trace of that first sad attempt at a novel out of my system, and was ready to start fresh. And I started. More than anything, I started because I simply couldn’t go back.
Almost everything has been scrapped. Their names are the same, but their characters are completely reinvented. Looking back on it, maybe they didn’t even have fully-fleshed characters in that first attempt. Maybe that was part of the problem. The fun thing is that the actual Story That Killed My Novel will show up as a chapter in the new novel, and I even know where it goes.
I don’t know what makes me think this attempt will be any different, but I do think I’ve learned quite a bit from that first failed novel. Don’t they say that the first novel you write is just for practice? If not, I’m just going to keep telling myself that because otherwise I would have to feel like a big fat loser for spending a year on something that ended up going nowhere.
I’ve been writing a lot in these six months, even if it is just play-writing. Maybe no writing is bad writing. I feel like I’ve grown. Maybe I can’t know it, but I think I feel it. And for crying out loud, I DO finish things. I’ve finished lots of things before. I am not a failed novelist, I am NOT.
(Sorry, giving myself a pep talk here…)
Anyway, I’m back into it again. A lot of crazy business went down around the turn of the new year, and then there was a big fat move, and it seems it takes about six months to recover from such things. I’m recovered. I’m all plotted out and ready to dig in. And I’m already loving novel #2. I love my characters (they’re still called Danny, Lexi, and Hannah, by the way). They’re spunky and sarcastic and big-hearted and tragic and off their rockers some of the time. I’m only about 14 pages into it, but you know, new novels have to begin somewhere 😉