Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, October 27, 2006

The NaNoWriMo itch

I have been working on getting my novel revisions done so I can participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. In addition to me pacing my living room, wringing my hands and mumbling "how? how?" over scenes the editor wants created/changed, I've been getting myself into the "mindset" of writing another novel. Of course, that parent in me is dreading entering the zone again, especially since this time 'round, I am all by myself and have NO visitors, NO siblings to ask for help and basically NO room for error in staying on guard 24/7 as a deaf parent. (Except for the fact that I WILL have my weekends free. I'll probably be spending them holed away from the world, catching up on the book.) Part of getting into this mindset is deciding on what book to write. Of course, I have many novel and book ideas jotted down and saved all over the place, but I kept scanning through them and not really taking to one I would try to write over the course of 30 days. Most of them require research, and some of them just aren't "developed" fully enough for me to grab them and start writing them now.

That was, of course, until this morning.

There is this one new novel idea I have come up with (actually, I got the idea for it in the shower, of course!), and I'm starting to feel that old itch to start the book NOW. This morning, my daughter woke me up when she climbed into bed with me because she was cold in her room, and as we lied there together, snuggling up for warmth, I thought more on that kernel of an idea. That's all it was, really. Just a kernel of an idea: A title and my character's first name. Her first name is Katy. I inwardly groaned over this, because after the book gets published, every Katy I know will write to me or email me with, "That character is me, isn't it?" Even the long-lost friends named Katy or Katey or Katie or Kathleen or Katherine or Kit Kat! But, the Muse has spoken, and you can't argue with the Muse!

Which is why I have grudgingly accepted that this book will be chick lit. At first, I subconsciously panicked. NOT ANOTHER CHICK LIT BOOK!! PLEASE! (My Thanksgiving story, which is UNpublished, is chick lit.) But the more this story came to life in my mind, the more I realized there's no getting out of writing another chick lit story. The genre isn't exactly one I favor, nor is it one I write in very often. But, that's the way it is, so I'll have to either deal with it or pass it on.

I started to also think more and more about this story as I lied awake this morning. I already had an idea of what kind of story it was going to be and the "angle" I would approach it with, but I have been having a hard time of figuring out how to make it "work." I mean, WHY is it called this? How is that shown in the way the book's written? How would I turn it into a "story" and not just day-after-day-after-day stuff? I mean, it had to have some kind of MEANING. Some...goal for my characters to reach. Some kind of plot. But as I thought more of this, and WHY my main character is doing the thing that the title reflects, I came up with a way for it to "work." How to make the story come together, and a way for my character's doing this thing to make sense.

In fact, the more I thought on it, complete with coming up with another character (and another and another), the more the first chapter of this story started to develop in my mind. That itch to write suddenly became a flame lit within and I wanted to jump out of bed and start writing everything down.

But, I couldn't do that. No, it wasn't time to write yet.

First of all, it's not even November 1st! (FIVE MORE DAYS!!) Second, you can't start writing nibbles of your book THEN face the first day starting your book "from scratch." It don't work that way, folks! That's...cheating. LOL But, there are the character sketches to do. The synopsis. Maybe even ideas for a scene or two to write down.

But I wasn't going to let myself start writing down ANYTHING that has to do with this book yet. I just don't work that way with fiction. I like story ideas to turn over and over in the "workshop of my mind" first. I like to "live" my stories before I write them. I get mentally and subconsciously acquainted with my characters before I do their sketches, and I prefer to let a story grow on the inside first before I let it grow on the outside. (Wow. I just now realized the whole "gestational period" analogy. Writing a book IS like giving birth! Without the hours of labor pains, thank God.) So, there wasn't going to be any writing of THAT book to be done.

Even as I knew this, and as I got caught up thinking about the story, my daughter suddenly swung her head back and hit mine. My excitement for the story pretty much faded as I rubbed my head and inaudibly mouthed "ouch." Hm, maybe she found the "off" button. Haha, it's like she was saying, "Snap out of it, Mom!"

Well, I could immerse myself in reading OTHER stories for now (like the first reads I'm doing for Zumaya) and lots of other novels to catch up on so I can put myself into the whole "fiction-writing world" to get my Muse back into THAT habit. And, there ARE other things I can write during the meantime. Like my...novel revisions?? Or that article I never found the time to write yesterday. Or even...blog posts! Yes! I could write some blog posts! This one!


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