I think the hardest part about moving away from being a “One Day” blogger is admitting the possibility of defeat. When all you have are intentions, you can’t really fail – you can keep intending to write that book and maybe even try to get it published “one day”, and no matter if a month goes by or ten years do, you’re always just as close as you always were.
Which is to say, you’ll do it “one day”.
But I am not content to be a “one day” writer; I want to see if I have what it takes to be serious about writing. I don’t mean serious in the snobbish, turn-your-nose-up-at-popular-fiction kind of serious, the kind of person who believes that there is a Right Way to write, and that unless you can analyze the themes and images of James Joyce, you’re just a pretender. I mean serious as in serious commitment, even if it’s to silly ideas.
I mean not letting yourself slack off and ignore the next scene because it’s hard, or not taking the time to learn how to edit. I mean having only unfinished works that you never pursue, and only writing for one or two months out of the year. If that’s all you do, then writing is a hobby, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Hobbies are awesome, but there is a different level of commitment and intent between something you want to do as a hobby and something that you want to take to the next level. A hobbiest painter will never be compared to Rembrandt, nor should they be; after all, they aren’t striving for the same level of ability. Someone who tries to paint for a living very well may be, though.
I think I’m getting slightly off track (and might have insulted people by saying that writing is just a hobby for you), and I should note that by “you” I mean “me” – I have to move past the half-assed attempts that I have had thus far or writing will only ever be an interesting hobby for me. I want to be more serious about this, to see if I have what it takes to take this from a hobby that I enjoy to something that I could spend a lot of my time on. I have no idea if I can; writing long prose is still relatively new to me. This next year is my test in that regard.
I just finished NaNo with another win, and an almost complete story. There are a few more scenes to write (well, to take from summary to exposition), and then I will have one poorly formed novel in front of me. That’s the point of NaNo, though, and why I love it – it allows, even encourages, you to write poorly as long as you write. If I gave up every time I disliked something about my story, I would have given up every thousand words or so. The book would be an intro scene that I hate, an opening of awkward dialog and characters I didn’t know yet, and then a ream of blank pages.
Instead, I have a ream of bad prose. But I have prose! And there are good bits. My goal over the next year is to refine that, to see if I can make a novel out of it. Will it be a good novel? Hell, I don’t know. On the grand scale of literary achievement, probably not, but hopefully I can at least make it interesting, something that you wouldn’t think you wasted your time if you picked up and thumbed through.
More importantly, I have to learn how I edit. I’ve gotten a lot of advice here, just like I have gotten a lot of advice on how to write, but if it’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that I have to find my own way. Some people are meticulous planners; I tried that, but it didn’t work for me. Some people do best writing a little every day; I don’t. I lose the string if it takes me more than two months or so to get the story out, so I have to write in bursts, lots of productivity all at once.
In the same way, I need to find a way to edit that will work for me. I need to find a way to tear apart the story that I just wrote, to break it down into pieces and rearrange them as they need to be, and reshape the ones that need to be reshaped, and to put it all back together so that it comes out like I want it to. Do I know what I’m doing? Not a damn clue. But I have this year to figure it out.
It will be an adventure.