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Clicking the Box

Monday, June 04, 2012

I don't know whether to blame Sparkpeople, or starting the C25K program, but something's happening to me these days...

I started something new this week, and I don't know what the eff I was thinking because I'm not sure I can do it, but it's too late to turn back now!

I'm a writer -- basically, I'm a propagandist hack who writes media scripts -- training and orientation videos, e-Learning, websites, the whole nine, for corporations. If you've worked a retail job in the last ten years, you've probably seen my work (and appy-polly-logies for that!). But I'm cool with my hackitude, I do like my job, truthfully -- but, you know, what I do, it's not anyone's dream job. No kid dreams of having my job when they grow up!

At any rate, ultimately, what I want is to write other sorts of things. I've spent the last, probably five or six years kicking around an idea for a novel. SciFi, kinda old-school cyber-punk, honestly, but it's a good idea, and a marketable one. I know it is. So, what's the problem?

I've never been able to get past the first chapter.

I will say, it's a helluva first chapter. I freaking love it. If I didn't love it, I would've given this particular story up long ago. But one chapter is all I've ever been able to get onto paper. I've probably had about a dozen false starts for Chapter Two -- I usually get about halfway through before the fire would die out and I'd get bored. I was overly critical of everything I wrote. I stalled. For years.

So, about three months ago, some of my friends were chatting about something called Camp NaNoWriMo, which sounds weird, but stands for "National Novel Writing Month", and it's this online challenge where writers sign up and write a 50,000 word novel in one month.

50,000 words in a month.
A novel completed in 30 days!

The idea is to push past the self-criticism and doubt and just pound the story out onto the keyboard. At the end of the 30 days, you either walk out with a 50,000-word start to your longer novel, or you finish with a completed novel, ready for revisions.

Holy crap.

I bookmarked the link, didn't really investigate it further than hearing my friends talk about it that one time. I had things to do. Orientation scripts to write. PTA Meetings to attend. Running shoes to buy.

Then, last Thursday night happened.

I'd stayed up late -- the husband and the kiddo were sleeping in their beds and I'd just finished watching some show on the DVR. Since I can't watch TV like a normal person anymore, I was also on the internet, checking out message boards and Sparkpeople, and something -- I don't know what -- made me click that bookmarked NaNoWriMo link. It was probably around 11pm, and the more I read, the more I was interested. First off, it's totally free (excellent!). If you sign up, you're assigned a "Cabin" with 5-6 other writers, and you're all there to sort of serve as a sounding board for one another and to support each other another through the challenge. Also, for the paranoid among us -- read, me -- you can keep your words and your storyline as confidential as you like, so no worries about anyone stealing your stuff. It sounded cool.

Then I read that the next challenge would run the month of June.
As in, starting June 1st.
As in, starting mere minutes from that moment.

Everything after that was kind of a blur. I had this weird, panicky moment -- I wanted to do this thing, but wasn't sure I could pull off that kind of writing speed, and oh, god, I didn't even have the backend of my plot sorted out and then there was more research to do way, I couldn't possibly do this!

So, I looked to the next session. They skip the month of July, so if I didn't sign up for June, I'd have to wait until August.

:::seconds ticked by:::
I don't want to wait, but signing up now, well, that's a little crazy, right?
:::tick tick:::
50,000 words is insane. And you've got work and the family, plus running...
:::tick tick:::
I totally, no, I couldn't do it, even if I wanted to...
:::tick tick:::
Come the box to register...
:::tick tick:::
Time's almost up!
:::tick tick:::
Just a twitch of the finger...

So, yep, I did it! I clicked the box! I signed up for the June session and I am writing my heart out! I can't guarantee that any of what I'm writing is any good at all, but it is balls to the wall, my friends! To meet the deadline, I've got to write about 2,000 words a day, from here on out, which is daunting (and frankly, I'm afraid, damn near impossible). Two of my cabin mates are already up to 7,000+ words. I'm in the middle of the pack right now, so I think I'll be okay if I can keep up the pace.

(Story of my life right now, finding a comfortable pace...!)

So, if my blogs are a little thin this month, you'll know where I am, giving my brain and my fingers as much of a workout as I'm giving my legs and my lungs on the track!

Funny where the internet leads us -- first to Spark, then to this. Challenges abound this summer, and I'd be lying if I didn't say it's terrifying and exciting!

(Oh, and here's the link for anyone that might be interested in finding out more about Camp NaNoWriMo: )
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It's absolutely amazing, isn't it? I started this journey to lose weight and it became SO much more! How cool is that? I am amazed still at the way it worked out.
    Have you let your characters come to life and take over? I wrote a short story once, when I started I had the whole story written in my head and EXACTLY what was gong happen. WRONG!
    By the time I was done with this story my characters had decided just what they were going to be like, and it wasn't anywhere NEAR my idea!
    It's amazing how that happens. Charlie ended up being a real dick, and I had him as a quiet man, a little dorky, but all around pretty nice. Nope, he's a selfish, womanizing, and self absorbed human being. Now where did THAT come from? But the story had a happy ending, so it's ok that they guided me.
    Good Luck!! Keep us posted, I'm rootin" for you!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2177 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/6/2012 12:13:37 PM
    I think that is AWESOME! I love how our successes with our fitness can build our willingness to chase our deeper dreams! I once started writing a book, I have about 7 chapters, and I decided it sucked and I just...stopped. I haven't even tried to write since. I think it's awesome that you're pushing through all that perfectionism and self-doubt, kinda gives me some hope for myself. YOU ROCK.
    2177 days ago
    When I was working on my dissertation (and qualifying exam paper), I made myself write something, anything, every day. It didn't matter how big or how little - I had to do something. Sometimes I changed a however, sometimes I wrote a few pages. Anyway, it sucked, but it got done.

    This seems much longer, with a greater time crunch. But... that's what editing is for! Just get something down!
    2179 days ago
    Way to go! Nothing like being forced out of your comfort zone. Especially when you're the one doing the forcing.
    2179 days ago
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