So here’s something crazy: I’m trying out NaNoWriMo for the first time. << A year ago, I thought that was the most impractical sentence I could ever write about myself. Writing an entire novel in a month? Me? I could never write consistently for 30 straight days. Impossible.
But I'm doing it.
I won't go into all the specifics of what made me change my mind, but mostly it was the frustration I feel everyday that my story isn’t finished. I have attempted to get this story out of my head, for almost least three years now. But it seems determined to stay put where it is. I’m in love with the story and I feel duty bound to finish, but that hasn’t helped me finish. Imagine my embarrassment when people ask me this question:
“You’re a writer. Great! How many books have you written?”
Yeah. About that.
You might have already guessed that this isn’t going to be a first draft, blank-slate story. (that might mean I’m breaking some NaNoWriMo rule, idk) It’s a story I’ve written scenes to, grown frustrated with, and let it sit untouched on my computer for months. It’s something I want to finish, but haven’t committed myself to actually finish. I hope NaNo will be the start of a cure for that.
The Water is Wide – my story. Secretly, it’s inspired by a movie I saw. I stole some characters from it, but it won’t matter because it’ll never be published.The title is based on this song –
but I can’t tell you how it relates to the story.
okay now, enough with the secrets. what can I tell you?
My story is set deep in the Appalachian mountains, in a country rebuilding itself after a civil war.
It’s a story about war and family, joy and suffering – how beautiful those things are in the world together. It’s about how devastating war is – how it leaves the children to pick up the broken pieces and make homes for themselves among the ashes. It’s about the fear of repeating history, and the fear that comes with realizing you can’t control the world.
(do not ask me how long it took for me to decide which characters to include)
• daughter of war heroes • struggles with bravery • feels like she has to hold her family together • wants to be apart of something bigger than herself • runs the family bakery • hunts in the woods and gives the meat to poor families • seventeen •
• lost his father and sister to the war • fierce pacifist • struggles with admitting he’s wrong • singer/songwriter • apprentices at the butcher’s shop •
• Stephen’s mother • works with herbs and medicines • lost both husbands and a daughter in the war • struggles with loneliness • believes isolation from joy is poison •
• next door neighbor • lost her husband years before the war • mother to three sons and a daughter • raises geese • struggles with the loss war brought to her family •
• works in the medicine plant just outside the city • becomes head of the city’s defense efforts • understands the need to rebel from inside • struggles with compromising for the greater good • solid • trustworthy •
• war hero • suffers severe PTSD • struggles with living • believes the world has nothing meaningful left in it • taught her daughter the woods are a safer place because animals are never as dangerous as humans are •
• war hero • POW • suffers from PTSD • owns the family bakery • struggles with his role as father • believes that suffering can make you stronger •
So that’s my story – condensed as I can make it without giving anything away (I’m terribly secretive about my stories, sorry). I love where I want to take it, but I don’t know exactly how to get there. This story asks a lot of questions about duty, loyalty, sacrifice and suffering – questions I certainly don’t have the answer to. But the story won’t leave me alone. It’s grown in the past three years, when I thought it wouldn’t. I take that as a good sign.
I read once that writing is an act of listening and naming what you hear. That’s probably the best writing advice I’ve ever heard. And I’m keeping that in mind for tomorrow when I get up to write.
I’m going to listen. Not make things up. Not pull something out of me that isn’t there. Not worry about how much my writing will suck – because it will and that’s an okay reality – for now. I’m going to make progress, whatever that looks like.
I won’t worry about word count (I like quality). I won’t worry if I miss a day (or two). I just want to form habits. I just want all the scenes down on paper, start to finish.
I want to listen and forget that I’m the one writing.
postscript #1: I’ll be taking off the month
of November from blogging. Writing a book
is going to take up enough of my head space
as it is. You understand, I hope?
Good. Now go forth and write.