Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mission accomplished!

This morning at about 10:30 I passed 50,000 words with my NaNoWriMo novel. It took another 1,316 before it felt as though I was done telling the story, but at 50 thousand I was essentially done, I just needed to wrap up a few loose ends.

I cried. Not a big howling cry, but some tears and a sniffle or two. Anyone who knows me knows I tend to get teary pretty easily, but this was different from crying at the end of a good book or film. This was a lot like the way I cry at the end of the PMC, when I know I've done something substantial. Something that leaves me a different person than I was before I began.

So what was this whole experience like? I wrote at the beginning that I was passionately enjoying the process and found it was giving me a writing discipline I had longed for but hadn't yet achieved. It has been that and more.

It has been thrilling, frustrating, exciting and inspiring. It's been a bit like falling in love. It's all I really want to talk about, all I can think about and now that it's over I find myself longing for that first rush again. I'm a little at a loss about what to do now that it's over. I know, the obvious answer is to write more and I shall. I am, for instance, writing now. But what I really want and need to do is write more fiction. That will come, I have several projects in mind, but for now I need to process the process.

I've had the pleasure of meeting people who were lurking in my imagination and seem to have wills of their own. That part of the process was hoped for and even expected; I've occasionally had characters go in directions I wasn't expecting in other writing projects, but this time they really took off. I was writing things I didn't plan, meeting people I didn't know were coming into the story and hearing dialogue with an unexpected clarity because the characters were all so distinct.

I've been reminded of how all these characters are parts of me, so I've had to process some of my own feelings and experiences in the course of mining my own life. When I've written an episode out of my life into a character it becomes easier to let it happen to someone else, let them hurt and heal. But since the characters are all part of me who's really healing?

I've discovered I know more about narration and story than I thought. All those years of telling stories have helped me learn how to write stories.

I also learned how to sit down, shut up and write. I think that this has been the most valuable part of the experience for me. Having done this I know I can do more, that written language works as well for me as spoken, improvised language.

How am I different, how has this changed me? I've written a novel. I was always one of those people who was going to write a novel someday and now I've done it. Someday is now. This means I can write another and take more than 25 days to do it. If I've written something decent in 25 days who knows what I could do in more time - say two months? Maybe even three?

It's no wonder NaNoWriMo has been such a powerful experience, as I'm sure it is for many participants. For now, I'm going to let the novel rest, then look at it in a little while and see if, with a rewrite or two and some workshopping, I might begin looking for a publisher.

Oh, and in case you're wondering - no, you can't read it yet. It needs tweaking and lots of it. It's about five generations of Jewish women, storytelling, cooking, and how we define ourselves through the stories we tell.

Kind of like the way writing a novel has helped me redefine the story I tell about myself.

(c) 2007 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

No comments:

Post a Comment

True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
Related Posts with Thumbnails