I hope all of you in U.S.A. had a wonderful Thanksgiving? If you did some Black Friday shopping, I hope it was a safe and fun experience! I enjoyed a fantastic turkey (I did not make it) but I must say I think I liked the cranberry sauce the best (again, didn’t make it). 😛
Here we are at the end of November, at last! For me, the month has both taken forever and, along with the chilly winds of fall, blown right by. All the colorful orange, yellow and red leaves are gone and dead, and the cloudy skies make everything look so depressing. The days are short, and the nights long. It wears on a person. So we try to ignore it as we go about our busy lives until sparkling snow falls and hides the dead looking things, and allows us to have some fun in nature again. The short days without the sun are what makes this time of year drag, and I hate it. Though, for other reasons, I also love this time of year. November has been great because of the writing community’s excitement over NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and by working hard and lifting each other up the month has flown by because of it.
My first year doing NaNoWriMo was in 2014 where I completed my first draft of Oak & Mistletoe. I did it while it was only a few short months after giving birth to one of my children. I took every chance I had (which wasn’t many, because my family-time always comes first) to write that Nano word count each day. I did it during naps, sometimes with one arm. I did it in the morning, afternoon, and deep into the night, sacrificing my sleep. Spreading it out like that was how I kept up. I wasn’t able to sit for hours or half a day at a time like many people who do Nano, but I wanted to follow through with my commitment, so I did what I had to do. Then, came November 30th and I had finished! Around 57k! My first novel sized completed story!
I wish I had known about NaNoWriMo before I had children, and the many years before that, when I was a preteen and teenager. I think I would have benefited from it at those ages, and during my difficult childhood, it may have helped me find myself sooner rather than later. But I believe all things happen for a reason, at least to some degree, and maybe I wasn’t ready for it. I was creative in many ways, and instead of writing, I focused on drawing manga for some years which ultimately pushed me to move to Japan as an exchange student for a year, where I had many valuable life experiences, and met many amazing people. So you see? I might not have done those things if I had been focused on writing then. As a teenager (like most people) I was crazy over-emotional, so maybe I would have given up too easily because of self-doubts. Honestly, you can never know what might have been. But, with good intentions and hard work, you can find the place in life where there is happiness in what you do. I’m thankful to have found NaNoWriMo, and for when I found it. All of you who love to read or write, I strongly encourage you to participate at least one year just for the fun connection with other Nano writers, and also that you pass it on to others (young and old) who love the written word. You could be changing their life.
This year for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been working on my revamp of A Bell Sound Everlasting mostly. I’m working on other projects as well because I do my normal daily writing goal as an author too, but I wanted to make sure to participate this year since I missed last November. It’s been a fun month, and as I said earlier, blown away in the writing days. I’m happy with my first draft of this revamp, and it will be done in just a couple days! What have been your thoughts for this year’s Nano?
“Creativity is a combination of discipline and a childlike spirit.” – Robert Greene
As for my thoughts…I want to say a couple things regarding writing your novel, or really for writing any story. Don’t let anyone tell you to copy the current fads of writing in the world today. Yes, you need to know something of what is out there today, enjoy reading and such, but honestly, you don’t want to copy those fads or copy the voices of other writers because by the time you publish 1. the fad may be over 2. it’s not being true to you as a writer to not have your own voice, and 3. an intuitive reader will feel and see that your voice isn’t genuine or original. Write your own original work, your very own story. No one in the world can write your story but you. And remember, no matter what critics say, your story is written the “right way” because it’s yours. If you are doing a retelling of something, that’s only a tiny bit different. However, if you’re writing something completely original, then you told your story correctly because it came from only your mind and heart. Let people be judgemental, that’s what people do, unfortunately. But don’t let it waver your determination to write your stories and keep on writing them.
Of course, there is always room for improvement of your voice and writing style, and it’s super necessary for beta readers, critique partners, editors and proofreaders to help you mold and shape your story to be the best it can be. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about after the story is done, after it’s been released into the world and people interpret the story wrong, or they imagine things that aren’t there, even misquote you. Those who say things like “that character should have done something else” or whatever the criticism is. What it boils down to is this; it doesn’t matter what they think the character should have done, in the end, you (and your writing/publishing team who helped you) knew what had to be done to tell your story. You weren’t trying to write someone else’s story, whether it’s the story that everyone is reading this year or not. Why would you do that? Yes, read, always read. But you mustn’t write what you read, but write what is yours, in a style that is yours. Write what you know and are passionate about. The RIGHT way to write YOUR stories is YOUR way. NO ONE can tell your story better than YOU because it came from YOU. No one can tell your stories but you. So just write, and never mind everyone else. Writing is an art, therefore the craft can be mastered in a thousand different ways. Observe other work, but master your own voice. Do not mimic another. I can say it different ways, but the meaning is the same.
When people try to push you down, and they will try, this is a reflection on them not on you. Their lack of sense and goodness is something for you to fight against, and not let it wash over you. You’re not perfect, but not one writer or mere mortal is. So don’t let them keep you down. Instead, stand up and walk on top of the tempest. Make your voice shine brightly on the page, and with each new story let it shine brighter and brighter. Mastering your own writing voice, just like everything, takes great care, time and practice. So be yourself, be original. Never give up, and believe you can do it.
I hope fellow writers can learn from my experiences, and that you take these words with you as you finish up NaNoWriMo in the next few days. Good luck and best wishes to all of you! Lift each other up, and always strive to be better and work hard like you never have before!
P.S. Make sure to go over to Goodreads and enter the current giveaway for Oak & Mistletoe! Up until December 1st, for a chance to win 1 of 3 paperbacks (signed ARCs)!