Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Novel Idea

In my line of work, I spend a great deal of time writing. In some cases, it's about a topic that interests me, but often it's about something I have to write about. An assignment.

So when an activity appears, in the form of NaNoWriMo, that literally gives me permission to take up part of my 24-hour day fleshing out that novel idea you've been kicking around for oh, 10 years, there's a thrill ("Wow, I can really do this!").

At least, until the day of reckoning. And that day was today, November 1.

I've had a number of ideas for a novel over the years. None of which seem particularly difficult to bring to life. Yet when I sat down to write, stage fright set in.

For those not acquainted with NaNoWriMo, if you opt in for the encouraging emails designed to egg you on throughout the novel-writing process, you begin receiving them today, the start of the project.

The first message was from Tom Robbins, one of those authors who, like Kurt Vonnegut, transported me as a bored high schooler to communities overflowing with colorful characters, some of whose idiosyncracies I recognized in relatives, coworkers, or teachers and even friends. The back stories of these characters made me appreciate the idiosyncracies in my real-world acquaintances all the more.

Among the hints Mr. Robbins provided in his message to his fellow writers was this:

"You need not have your ending in mind before you commence. Indeed, you need not be certain of exactly what's going to transpire on page 2. If you know the whole story in advance, your novel is probably dead before you begin it."

That last sentence did it. It gave me the shot of courage I needed to just dive in and write the 1,750 words I wrote today.

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