There is something about entering into the month of November that now makes me a little nervous. No, it isn’t the fear of leftover turkey sandwiches or fighting the crowds on Black Friday (I hate shopping and never go out on that day). It’s that every late-October I have one thought: Will I Be Able to Write another Novel?
This November I will be embarking on writing my ninth novel.
When I wrote that very first (young adult) novel a couple of decades ago, I was in school, knee-deep in writing everything from speeches to marketing pitches to press releases (hello, communications degree, howyadoin’?) so I didn’t give this little young adult novel much room to allow fear to enter. It was technically just a school assignment.
However, the span of almost twenty years exists between that first novel and the second novel. I ended up writing a non-fiction book in between because I was now too afraid and uncertain of my abilities to write another novel…and felt the non-fiction piece was less threatening.
And while I count the first young adult book in my completed pieces of fiction – it is hardly much. I want to say it teeters around the 30k-word mark but to be honest, I am unsure. It is printed on a dot-matrix so that will tell you chances were good my 1990-something computer did not have the capability to offer a word count.
Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month a few years ago. I went back and forth wondering if I should participate. Could I write a novel in thirty days? What if I can’t? I took the leap and never looked back. That “second” novel came in around 52k words after thirty days and I stood back and thought, “Holy shit, maybe I CAN do this.”
Every October I begin to feel the same way again. Can I write ANOTHER book? Will I freeze up on page twenty and not know how to continue? What if I don’t finish? (I never worry, however, whether or not the manuscript will be a piece of shit because all the first drafts are horrible with a side of awful and a sprinkling of ‘you call yourself a writer?’ seasoning.)
This November I am tackling a contemporary book that spans a few decades but isn’t necessarily historical fiction. It was an idea that came to me one day and never left me – even though I have dozens of works in progress I could have pulled from. Sometimes with novel writing you have to work on the projects that seem to call your name and won’t leave you alone! This was that book.
I finished my chapter-by-chapter outline (42 chapters strong) about a week ago along with all the background and character information I could come up with at this stage of the process. My information is in a 3-ring binder which I will read over again next week before the first day rolls around – and the chapter-by-chapter outline is in another folder, all ready to go. (Can’t wait! Excited about this story!)
At 42 chapters it means I need to do more than one chapter every single day in order to finish by the end of November. I know the book will be more than fifty thousand words (the requirement to “win” the National Novel Writing Month challenge) and so I should have no problem reaching that by the end of November – but I like to have the novel completely finished by the end of the month as well.
Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?