I’m setting myself up for failure.
Proclaiming publicly my self-inflicted goal of finishing a first draft of a novel within a three-month timeframe in order to hold myself accountable was a bit of an impromptu decision. A decision that I decided last week was stupid. This became apparent midway through last week when I had failed to write a single word. Granted, my project didn’t officially begin until yesterday, but last week was my primer week. My week to decide which of the unfinished manuscripts stuck in my files I most wanted to finish. Which had the most promise, the most feasible plot to unravel in three months, and above all, which held the most magic? Which one was I most excited by?
The answer? All of them. And none of them.
They all hold a little glimmer of something I want to explore. But they all need a lot of work. I mean, a lot.
I don’t know what I was expecting. Wait, yes I do. I was hoping to come across a forgotten manuscript whose story grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go, a protagonist who jumped off the page, a sculpted plot that only needed a little nip here and a tuck there and voila — on to editing and revising! At the very least, I wanted to find a gem that, though it may be rough, was starting to show facets of sparkle between smudges of ink.
I became overwhelmed. I found three or four manuscripts that pulled at me but still needed a lot of work. I could see various viewpoints and protagonists and twists and themes for each of them. I got so muddled at one point that I began interweaving a couple of stories together, pulling from them the parts I liked best and melding them together. That didn’t work. I was giving up, convincing myself that nothing I ever attempted was halfway decent to begin with when I pulled out the story I began during my first go-round with NaNoWriMo.
It’s the one.
I’ll be honest. I was hoping to focus on a fun, breezy middle grade or YA for this project of mine. Something that didn’t require a lot of research. Something straightforward, current, maybe humorous. The only thing the story I chose has in common with the story I wanted to choose is that it is YA. It’s a historical fiction novel set against the backdrop of post-WWII New York City. It’s a love story, a mystery and a coming of age story. In my head it has undertones of noir fiction, but “the first draft of anything is shit”, so I’m fully aware that this remains mostly in my head. As it turns out, this is great news to my writerly self, a bit of an epiphany, because it used to be that I wasn’t okay with this. I didn’t want to write shit, I wanted to write like all the greats. I’m relinquishing my need for control (and thus moving at a snail’s pace) and placing stock in the fact that nuances, layers and textures (even historical accuracy) can be added later. Getting it down is the first step.
Ask the right questions, and get it down.
I’m already loving this journey.
*If you decide to partake in my little project, please add your updates and/or links to your blog in the comments!