The clock is ticking for National Novel Writing Month (NANOWIMO) which starts in November and goes till month’s end. I learned about it a few years ago and always wanted to participate but never have. I’d start preparing for it looking to get involved but always got distracted by the closest shiny object in my field of view and would leave it for another year.
Who am I to summit that mountain, to come up with some story, any story be it the search for a maguffin, one for vengence or another epic tale about a high risk bet that the protagonist comes to regret and has to pay for, for years.
In Dexter Palmer’s Dream of Perpetual Motion he says that “there are no new stories in the world anymore” but that was just the beginning of the quote. He goes on to lament about the modern world’s impatence for stories saying that “this machine age has no room for stories.”
The thing is we are creating and forming our own stories every day but the way we consume them has changed and that change is escalating with each passing year because of technology, volume and types of stories we seek.
The world is static, full of noise, chaos and possibilities which is both amazing and fear inducing. It makes me think how can I tell my story since it will most likely get lost in all the noise.
NANOWIMO is not just about writing, it is about adding a community to this lone and individual goal. It is about so many people doing it and using the web to support each other through the challenges that each and every would be writer will face.
That is the true purpose of NANOWIMO, it’s a way to connect people in pursuit of that epic tale, or maybe its just a small personal one. It is about taking that idea of writing and forcing us to make a plan and execute it.
I hate the blank page, I look at it with dread, that I can’t, that it will suck, that I won’t finish it. We each have to put that aside because it only resides in our self- conscious, we give those fears power each time they prevent us from trying.
So I have 18 days to come up with a plan. I have to stop building my damn world and start living in it. I have to be the characters within the world and see it from their perspective.
No one said writing was easy, even in a world where AI crafted stories at their best will be almost indistinguishable from what you or I could come up with. No story is perfect, as no person is either, the flaws are not good or bad but about us. In stories maybe a plot thread goes nowhere or maybe the language blossoms to much to often or there are plot holes the size of jetliners in the story.
An AI wouldn’t make those mistakes, it will not toll at the page, it will have analyzed millions of stories and their structures in ways that we can’t compherend. NANOWIMO is my leap off the diving board into the endless ocean of recycled stories hoping to not just crash back onto the beach in pieces.
I need a plan, I’ve build the world and that world has mutated and grown but it is time to stop creating the foundation and start building the skeleton. So my goal is to come up with a scenario and characters to explore. It could happen in the world I’ve built which dominates my thoughts or could be completely independent of it, if I feel the concept.
It’s time to create characters and give them goals, not just that but to connect to other people trying to summit their own NANOWIMO mountain in pursuit of a story that someone will want to read.
So it’s time to join writer’s groups, try to find people who will talk to be about exposition, action and voice. It will be attacking the blank page until it is filled with words and take an idea and breath life into it.
Will the story be good, will I ever put it out there to read? The answer to that is it doesn’t matter, it is about the act. It is about getting started and having a deadline to provide urgency that I would normally never give it.
I have a story within me, hundreds or more each waiting to be told, with so many options it doesn’t matter what I write just that I begin to fill in the details and give in to the story.
No more waiting for the right story, no more waiting until next time. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow may never come so the only thing is the now and it is time to write. The goal is there to drive you through the challenge but the path and what you learn about life and yourself is what matters.
Each character I create, each struggle they have in pursuit of their dreams reflects on my own in some way and by writing it I can free myself from it or at least lesson the weight it presses against my beaten soul.
I write because I must, because it is my freedom, even if no one ever reads it. That doesn’t matter, all that matters is that the words become my music even if the echoes never reach another’s ears, it is my change to not just sketch the lines but give the image colour, texture and style.
No more waiting, time for the long hard road of the written word. I have already done a lot of prep now it’s time to set my route, grab my gear and start that epic climb. No matter how high you get, whether you have a fully fleshed out novel or just the start of one you will further up than if you never started. So the countdown began the second I started writing this, now I have no choice in the matter and will put out whatever comes out of this here, maybe it will be grand maybe it will be horrible but I will never know unless I write it so time to begin.