[I've been sitting on this post for two days, not sure if I should put it up, but I figured I might as well and see what kind of response I get.]
I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoy writing.
Writing has always been a fun hobby, and something that has become increasingly more meaningful to me as I document more and more of my life experiences. My interest in writing even prompted me to take a non-fiction writing class, fill notebooks with travel journaling, and join a local writer’s group in Massachusetts.
For a long time now I’ve wanted to take my writing to “the next level,” but I guess I lack confidence. I’m all talk about how I have great ideas for novels, but I never put anything on paper, and the idea of writing a book feels so intimidating—the hugeness of the undertaking seizes up my fingers.
However, recently I’ve started taking note of how many blog posts I’ve written—I’m up to a whopping 330 now. Even if I only wrote 500 words per entry (and let’s face it, we all know many of my posts have more than 1,000 words), that’s almost 165,000 words in total! If the average number of words in a book is about 50,000, I’ve already written enough words for about three so far. When I think about it in that way, how can I be scared of the “enormity” of a book?
I certainly day dream about someone finding my blog, and asking me to write something more professionally–who doesn’t have that dream?—but I oscillate back and forth between, “No way dude, you are not that skilled,” and “well… maybe, I could at least try…”
I’ve been wondering if maybe I can find inspiration somewhere.
Then one of my cousins wrote on Facebook, “thinking of doing national novel writing month.”
For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a call to arms for writers to attempt to create 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. The goal is quantity over quality, to just get a story out on paper (computer screen?) and not worry about grammar and research and editing until later when the “meat” of the story has already taken shape.
I thought about this for about two weeks– “Maybe I could do this…” “No, no, no, I can’t, where would I start?” “But that’s the point, just pound it out…”
Then two days ago I realized what one of my problems was—the novels I’ve been thinking about are all fiction. Yet every time I submit a story for writer’s group, or describe the type of writing I do, or sit down to blog, what type of writing always comes out? Non-fiction!
Why am I forcing myself to swim up a fiction stream, when I can practice book writing with the plethora of nonfiction material I have already “pounded out” here on the blog?
But do I have enough to make a book? I feel like so much more must have to happen in my life before I have the material to flush out and create enough interest for a book… right?
Then for the month of October, my local book club chose, “Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs” by Heather Lende. I just finished it last night (in time for Sunday’s meeting!). The author lives in a small town called Haines in rural Southeastern Alaska with her kids and husband. She writes the obituaries for the local newspaper, a column for a Juneau newspaper, and is a contributor to NPR. Her book had a theme, but each chapter was a meditation on things she had experienced with her family and friends, much like a longer, involved blog post. I couldn’t help but feel, hey, maybe I could do this too?
In an interview with the author in the appendix of the book she answers the question: “What do you hope to share with your readers through their experience of reading this book?”
I’ve tried to give readers a window into a specific time and place and, by being so local and personal, tap into emotions they may have, too… in this day and age of homogenized housing, education, food, cars, and furniture, when so much of the country looks the same and feels the same, it’s more critical that we showcase what is unique in our own experience. Those of us who are able to tell stories that aren’t the same as everyone else’s should do it.
[Emphasis is mine.]
I almost felt like the author was reaching through my kindle to shake me by the shoulders.
Here is my thought: Perhaps during NaNoWriMo, instead of pounding out a novel with 50,000 words, why don’t I use that same energy and momentum to think about turning some of my experiences into a manuscript, and try to weave in and expand upon some of the stories that people have found most interesting?
So, my dear readers, what do you think? Should I try this little project? If I were to write a hypothetical book, what stories would you want to see?