The artisan’s way

Posted: November 30, 2014 in authors, books, writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s an interesting process writing a novel in a month. I had to laugh at the same old suspects bagging out National Novel Writing Month this November from the lofty perches of artisan pretension, and failing to grasp it’s true significance. A look through the twitter feed of #nanowrimo reveals a multitude of writers embarking on their first ever writing ‘baptism by fire’. Many try and fail and many try and succeed every November and some attempts create the novels that sustain and inspire us. That’s a good thing not a bad outcome if you leave the failures behind for one minute as practice runs. (You really can’t be forced to buy them you know).

A lot of writers are young writers and if a frenzied month of writing gets them to attempt novel writing, then all the better. The industry needs young voices just as it needs the older, first time manuscript writers and everything in between. Why? Because words are the building blocks of communication and writers inspire readers to cross mountains and raging rivers to get to reflection and understanding. A book can really change a life and, at the very least, can be the escape pod from a painful reality.

My month began full of enthusiasm and I not only made the word counts, I blitzed them. Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 kept ringing in my ears. This was the novel he expanded from a short story in nine days. And the best selling Nanowrimo novel Water for Elephants was an inspiration too. I got to work with fervour and passion, creating my main plot from the draft novel plan I’d done a few months earlier. My story “Blood Visions” had been rattling around in my mind for more than 18 months. I’d told it so many times to people who asked and I could see the point they became interested was around about the time I began to believe in the concept. Nanowrimo was my biggest excuse to write the manuscript, and my inspiration. I used all the comments from writers undergoing the same hell, as a motivator; and I used that horrible graph on my Nanowrimo profile page as the enemy I had to beat.

My story began to come alive; my characters began to speak to me and plots and sub plots came to mind just as quickly as I was able to bang my fingers logically on my keyboard. I went to sleep thinking about a scene and then the next and next, and I woke up thinking about what was coming next. I mulled over the plot twists and took some turns and kept going straight with other ideas. I wrote and I thought and I reflected, and a lot of it was cathartic. Getting thoughts out on page is like listening to yourself.

About midpoint, I waned. I became tired and then I returned to the twitter feed again and read a Nanowrimo hint of leaving the day’s work at a scene that you would enjoy writing the next day. It worked. I pushed through and learned to go without sleep and get up at dawn and do it all again before the day job.

Toward the end of Blood Visions, and as the end of the month approached, I was conscious of a mild thought in the back of my head that this story was ok. Maybe not fantastically competent – it’s a draft at this stage – and maybe one that can be made better, but it had held together throughout the month and I’d finally gotten the idea down on paper. By today, 30th November in Australia, I am mightily pleased with the draft. So thank you National Novel Writing Month for inspiring me to tell the story that had been inside me waiting for the right time to come out. Seems November was that time.

I’ll be busy editing during December now – late at night and at dawn, with the day’s inspiration in between. That’s why I proudly call myself a writer, and even an artisan, because I’m living the dream. I’m writing. As impossible as it may seem some days, I’m writing novels.

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