A friend and I sat companionably together, discussing books and our dreams of one day becoming authors ourselves. Casually, she said, “I’m thinking about writing next month. Apparently, November is novel writing month.”
“Really?” Instantly intrigued, I pressed for more info. “I never heard that. A month dedicated to writing? I didn’t know such a thing existed. How’s it work?”
“I dunno. You just write, I think.”
“Oh. Cool.” After chatting a bit longer, she left for work and I ran upstairs to run a quick Google search. Within minutes, I found the nanowrimo.org website, thought the idea sounded awesome, and immediately created a profile on their site. I clicked the ‘I’m going to write a novel this year!’ button on the website, thinking that after years of talking about becoming a writer one day, I was going to do something about it this year.
I logged out of my PC and went downstairs to cook dinner, feeling pretty proud of myself.
And promptly forgot about the whole thing.
And when I say forgot, I mean I didn’t write a single sentence – not a single word – of fiction that entire month. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t until the following February that I went, “Oh, crap. I was going to start a novel last November. Oops. Oh well, I can always try again this November.”
(Hint: I didn’t write a darn thing in 2012, either.)
2013 started much the same way, except I didn’t give the previous November any thought whatsoever. I was once again on the ‘dream to be an author one day’ wagon, never stopping to consider when ‘one day’ should be. Instead, I drowned myself in distractions: TV series marathons, book reading binges, and an alarming addiction to World of Warcraft.
Oddly enough, that addiction provided the first push toward actively reaching for my dream.
Earlier in the year, I joined a new guild and met a host of new people. One of my new guild-mates happened to be an English major and a fellow bibliophile. However, when I casually mentioned my aspirations to become an author one day, I didn’t get the ‘Really? That’s so cool.’ response I usually received. Instead, he launched into an excited English major version of twenty questions that completely took me off guard.
“That’s so awesome! What do you write?”
“Uh. Nothing, yet. I mean, I did a little bit of fiction when I was in high school.”
“Wow, that’s incredible.”
(Insert my cringe here – nothing I wrote in high school could remotely be considered incredible.)
Undaunted by my lackluster responses, he continued with his barrage of questions. “So what kind of fiction? Romances? Science fiction?”
“Um, no. More like fantasy type stuff. But I haven’t written anything in years.”
“Aw, man, fantasy rocks! I love how fantasy writers just create something out of nothing, you know? Do you write epic stuff like Tolkien? Or parallel universe stuff like Harry Potter?”
“Uh … neither? Just plain fantasy, I guess. Like I said, I haven’t written for years.”
“I know, but what do you want to write about?”
Now, at this point two very interesting things happened.
First, let me point out – just in case you didn’t catch it before – that despite constantly saying I wanted to be a writer, I never stopped to think of what I wanted to write about. Ever. The furthest I got was ‘Oh, I want to write fantasy.’ I didn’t even stop to consider that fantasy covers a huge range of topics. That is, until Mr. Questions started interrogating me.
And you know what? Not having an answer to his question kinda pissed me off.
Not at him, but at myself. Good grief, I’d been telling my parents I wanted to be an author since the third grade. Here I was, a few months away from turning thirty – which meant that I spent somewhere around twenty years daydreaming and looking at this lofty goal without ever taking a moment to think about how to achieve it. How in the world was I going to become a writer if I never stopped to write? There was no way I’d ever become an author if I didn’t have a story to tell.
This is where interesting thing number two comes in.
Embarrassed, vaguely irritated with myself (and to be honest, with the unexpected onslaught of never-ending questions), I opened my mouth and made something up. “Well, actually I like the idea of having a half-breed girl who – according to a prophecy – is destined to save the world.” Whoa. That sounded way better than it had in my head. Where had that come from?
Mr. Questions immediately went nuts. “Dude, that sounds awesome! Those types of stories are the best – what’s her heritage? Human and what?”
I thought about it for a second, not wanting to admit that I had no idea what I was talking about. “Not human. Half elf and half … shape shifter. The two races don’t really get along, because the elves are all elegant and refined, while the shape shifters are more like … coarse barbarians? They live in harmony with nature, refusing to cut down trees and stuff. The elves, on the other hand, don’t care about the land at all.”
“Whoa, really? That’s the opposite from most elves. I like it! Is there a reason they don’t care about nature?”
“Not really. It’s just not that important to them.”
“What is important to them?”
“Magic.” I stated promptly – partly because I was playing my mage at the time. “They can control the elements – fire, water, air, earth. Actually, the fire users have a little bit of responsibility for why the two races don’t like each other. I mean, you need wood for fire to burn, right?”
At this point, one of our other guild-mates, Murph, had entered into the chat. “Wait, what book is this? I want to read it.”
“It’s Crystin’s book! She’s writing it.” Mr. Questions replied before I could – and way too enthusiastically.
I admit, I panicked a bit. “Uh, it’s not a book. Just an idea. I haven’t started writing it or anything.”
“Well you should,” Murph said. “I want to read it. It sounds right up my alley.”
Mr. Questions agreed. “Yeah, me too. Send it my way when you finish it!”
“O-okay. I’ll, uh, keep you guys in mind.” I stared blankly at my computer screen for several minutes after that – partially thinking about how incredible this guild was (they had all sorts of team building slash friendship events) – but also thinking about the spontaneous story idea I created out of nowhere. It actually sounded kind of cool …
To be continued on November 19th…