About a month ago, my uncle tagged me in a post on Facebook. “We should do this, Aub!” is what it said. What is ‘this’ I wondered? Upon further investigation, I saw that it was a challenge. A challenge of the highest caliber.
Write a novel in one month. Thirty days. Fifty-thousand words.
Easy, I thought. I can do that. Bring it, bitches.
So we signed up. I outlined a story that I’ve had in my head for awhile. I looked at my pages, covered top to bottom in red ink. A drama. Filled with twists and turns unbeknownst to any human but myself. This could be the next Cuckoo’s Nest, the next East of Eden (my fave book, by the way. Steinbeck. Read my review here).
I sat down to write the next great novel.
And I couldn’t write it.
Nothing happened. I hated how my thoughts sounded on the page. It sounded gitchy, like a really bad young adult novel, full of too many “she’s” and a cliche description of some mountains.
So I left it for a few days. I came back, inspired and geared up. This time it was better, my thoughts came out smoother than they had before and I liked how a lot of it sounded. Still, it was slow.
I got books from the library so I could further understand my topic, wrote everything important in a fancy little leather-bound notebook and the more I learned the easier the writing seemed to get.
So after ten days of fervent, crazy person, Sylvia Plath level writing I had…
You’re joking, right? It seemed like so much more than that.
I texted my uncle, “There is no way in hell I’m getting to 50,000 words by the end of the month.” I’d assumed that he had a whole ton of words and a complete story, so when he texted back something along the lines of, “Me either. This is not going well” I felt a little bit better. Still a failure, but a failure with a friend.
So now, on this last day of this month, how many words do I have? I have a huge, whopping 6,723 words! Not exactly 50,000. But a start?
So did I actually write a novel? No.
The kids I nanny for however, did write novels.
But you know what? At least I wrote something. And at least I had a story in my head. A story that I plan to keep writing! So maybe the point of this challenge isn’t so much to write 50,000 words in a month, but to open your eyes to the reality that you can actually write something important. You can do it! It’s not an unrealistic goal. I’m sure J.D. Salinger thought he couldn’t do it at some point. Harper Lee probably didn’t think she could do it. No author who has ever written anything semi-influential blew through it the first time and went, “Yeah, this is perfect. Easy.”
So to all of you who did this challenge (or at least attempted to do so), congratulations! You tried. That’s a step further than a lot of people have gone. Even if it sucked, congratulations. Learning comes from doing, so just keep doing. I intend to.
I’ve extended my timeline to whenever the hell I finish. I’ll give myself five years. So I’ll update you in five years. Wait for it. It’ll be good.
Thanks for reading this week, friends! Come back for more on Wednesday!
Not a book this week! Still good though.