As a kid, I always had my nose in a book. The stories I devoured were mostly fantasy novels, then later in my teen years, thriller/ghost stories (RL Stine, anyone?). It was entertainment. It was an escape. It was wonderful.
I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Not just any writer, I wanted to be a fantasy novelist. I wanted to create wonderful magical worlds for kids like me. I liked the idea of making up a world and its inhabitants from nothing. It was a potent and powerful concept and desire that still influences me to this day.
I wrote a lot of short stories. I thought I was a good writer too – well, maybe not good, but at least not shitty. I even started writing a fantasy novel at the age of 12. It was never finished, obviously, but I still have my notes, the outline, and the manuscript. Maybe I’ll finish it one day.
In high school, English class sucked. English class was not fiction writing class. It was grammar class; it was analyzing and reanalyzing the hell out of literature written centuries ago that I didn’t give a shit about. The teacher was a humorless beast of a woman and I and the class was terrified of her. English class was boring, it was actual work, and I hated it.
In college, I somehow got it in my head that I could finally write for fun! After all, this is where one goes to learn one’s profession, right? I was happy and excited.
My first writing assignment in college was not in an English class; it was for a required elective class about some sociology thing or another. The class was asked to write an essay on some article we read. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I didn’t mind it either, so I wrote it and I thought I did well. My TA thought otherwise. She tore my poor little essay a new asshole.
That class and that TA made me realize that I was a very bad writer – and very bad writers cannot be fantasy novelists!
It was the way I wrote. I would outline it first, draft it, rewrite it, rewrite the rewrite, and then rewrite the rewritten rewrite. The end result was a disjointed jumbled mess. I don’t know how or when I developed this writing behavior, but I suspect it was in high school when writing stopped being fun.
My childhood dream had died. It stayed quite dead for a while too.
But… about three weeks ago, I stumbled something called NaNoWriMo. I forgot how I found it, but I do remember it being unrelated to whatever I was looking for. Someone mentioned it somewhere (Twitter perhaps?) and the acronyms caught my eye and I really wanted to know what the hell NaNoWriMo stood for.
I found that NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Its premise is for the participants to write a 50k novel in the month of november. That deep dark place my childhood resided in got quite excited. The adult side of me thought, “sure why not?” just to shut the childhood part of me up.
Also out of curiosity, I started to read a bunch of blogs about e-publishing on Amazon. Because, lets get real, it’s not like I expected to actually physically publishanything through traditional means.
But from those blogs, I also read about the state of the publishing industry (of which, shit has hit the fan) as well as tips on novel writing in general. One such blog that helped open my eyes was Dean Wesley Smith‘s, in particular the posts in his Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series. Here is my one sentence summary:
Readers don’t generally care about the nit picky grammar the same way my English teacher or that horrible TA cares about (unless it’s really horrible, obviously), they care about the storytelling.
Blows. My. Freaking. Mind.
So I’m going to do it. I will write a novel. I will work on my storytelling. I will get better.