“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
— T.S. Eliot
I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I signed up for it last year, but never even attempted to do it. This year, I’m going to do it.
In November, I am going to attempt to write a 50,000-word novel.
No. I’m GOING to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Not attempt. I will do it.
This has really made me think about the need to push my personal boundaries. I like to sit in my personal little bubble a little too much sometimes. I doubt I am the only person guilty of doing that. However, it is high time I push a little further out into my interests and test my abilities.
In writing, I consider myself a short story writer. Perhaps that is part of what I like about the Journalistic style of writing. Wham! Bam! Here’s the deal! Got it? Ok! Move on!
I like short stories that I can tell a story, give a message, and then end it within a few pages. Wrap it all up in a few hours. Something about that appeals to me.
A huge The X-Files fan back in the day, I delved into the world of Fan Fiction. I wrote stories using the pre-set characters from the show. It’s a little embarrassing to go back and read some of those stories, but at the same time I could see an advance in my writing as I composed story after story.
When I was in college, I took a writing class. It was an on-line class, and I never met a single one of my classmates. However, we would share stories and poetry each week based on prompts left by our professor on an online forum. We would critique each other’s compositions. We learned by doing. We learned by reading. We never met in a classroom, but I learned a lot that semester. We were told that all of our assignments were being considered for submission into the school’s literary journal that year.
One week, I found myself completely without the time to write a short story for my assignment. I’d had one fan fiction story receive a lot of praise, so I pulled it out, dusted it off and reworked it to feature characters all my own. With a deep breath, I submitted it. Wouldn’t you know, it was that story that got published! I have a few copies of that journal as a keepsake. My first published work of fiction.
That was about 8 years ago now. I’ve remained in my comfort zone of news articles and journal or blog posts. “Short stories” that I can churn out quickly. Wham! Bam! Here’s the deal! Got it? Ok! Move on!
I’ve talked a lot about some day writing a book. I’ve had people tell me I SHOULD write a book. But the fact of the matter is that it has always seemed like this huge mountain that I was afraid to climb. I’d say, “Someday.” But in reality, deep down I didn’t believe I’d ever have the patience to do it.
I’m really not sure why, but in the last few weeks I decided the time has come to push my comfort zone out. To try my hand at a novel. To try to tell a story much further in depth with character development, multiple events, and a “problem” to be solved in the course of 100+ pages.
Never one to go into anything unprepared, I have a month to figure out exactly what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. I’ve checked out a book, Novel Shortcuts by Laura Whitcomb, to give me some insight into what to expect and how best to handle my new project. I plan to check out other books after I finish this one. I’m reading every article available on the NaNoWriMo site. I’m a sponge, soaking up information, so that come November 1st I can wring myself out and hopefully come up with a novel.
The novel might eventually just take up dust on my hard drive. It might some day find its way to publication. Or it might just become a Christmas present for my closest friends and family to humor me and maybe read it. That part doesn’t matter to me right now. What matters is that I do this.
Similarly, I’m pushing my boundaries in site development. I’m reworking a web-site from the bottom-up, and I’ll be honest: its a daunting and somewhat terrifying task! I’m going into programing styles that go over my head, and as a result I’m taking baby steps. I’d like to say that in a few days I’ll unveil this magical site. The fact is, in a few days I’ll unveil a site that I’ll be tweaking with and learning about over the next several months. It’s nerve wracking!
But its ALL exciting. Pushing my boundaries creatively in multiple areas is exciting! My Project 365 has pushed my boundaries photographically. This blog alone has pushed my writing skills to where I am ready to sign up to be a contributor at other sites (more on that at a later date) and giving me the confidence to even consider NaNoWriMo. This blog, too, is what is pushing me to redo the web-site. Learning WordPress is daunting, but I’ve been loving and continue to love every minute.
I’ve always believed you should never stop learning, and I like to think I never have. However, right now I am feeling the urge and need to amp up my learning. Great things have always come from hard work and taking a risk. Its my time to do just that. Take a risk and do some hard work.