This morning I wrote a beginning. For years I’ve wanted to explore my college friendships, the ones that began the first day of freshman orientation in 1984 and continue through today. I started with a scene from freshman orientation at Wooster, with the girls in my campus house sitting in circle being told by our RA that we were now WOMEN and should no longer call ourselves or each other GIRLS. The term GIRLS, as of that day, no longer applied, we were told, and I remember thinking it very silly because if there ever was a day I felt like a little girl, it was that first day of my life living away from home. I wrote about my friend, Heather, whose birthday it was, and who shared birthday cake or cupcakes or some kind of treat with a houseful of potential friends. I wrote how Heather came to college with a collection of brand new monogrammed wooden hangers. As I always do with nanowrimo, the story becomes autobiographical, at least in the desire, feelings and motivations of my my main character. It’s my go-to way of generating lots of words in a very short time, but every year I sincerely want to make what I write a little deeper and more developed. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, my prologue starts with a gang of young women (old girls?) meeting on the first day of college. After that, I’m really not sure, but at least it’s a start, and I desperately needed to start.
National Novel Writing Month was a snore and a chore for me last November, just like it was the year before that and the year before that and probably the few years prior to that. In fact, this year I was so blase about my novel that when I accidentally erased the whole thing shortly after I finished it, I didn’t blink an eye or even care. After eleven years of this, I have fallen out of love with writing a novel in November.
What does it mean to succeed at nanowrimo? Most people’s first answer would be to reach that elusive 50K. In the years I’ve been participating, I have met this word count every year except one, my very bad year of 2003. So…you might call this feat successful, impressive, admirable…but is it really? Is it really an accomplishment if I write almost nothing from one November to the next and have never harbored much love or commitment to what the novel I have written? What’s the big deal of hitting 50K if I stop right there and stagnate for another year, only to start up again writing about essentially the same thing? Is there even a point to doing it if I have no desire to revisit my work, take it apart and see if there’s anything good in there? In the early years, I would have said definitely yes, but for about the last four years the whole experience has felt off and I have to do something about it.
Enter Camp Nanowrimo, starting April 1st. It’s Nanowrimo‘s alternative (or supplement) to writing in November, and I’m thinking this might get me out of my rut. April is far superior to November when it comes to my state of mind, and maybe, just maybe…maybe…maybe… something entirely different will sprout from the tips of my fingers.
April it is!