Could I do it? That was the question. I participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo undertaking because I didn’t know if I had it in me to produce at least 50,000 words centered on a single character. I’ve chipped away at fiction for years, and I’ve mailed editors the occasional hard copies of stories (all were returned) but ‘real’ work always pushed the stories off to the side. ‘Real’ work was real, fiction wasn’t. If I sat down and put together all the words making up the ‘real’ work total, the total could be a million. Those words were all on different subjects and meant for various purposes, but they show me that I have the ability to braid words into forms that make sense to people other than myself. But — in the voice of the bespectacled and pinch-mouthed internal editor — the question always lurked: could I sustain a story thread? Do I have that talent?
Stories have been floating in my head for years, some have stuck, some haven’t. Through the years, in the fifty homes where I’ve lived, I wrote — that’s pretty much what I’ve done all along, although taking pictures could also be a contender for first place. The header and the background images on this blog are from a photo I took at a music concert.
The typing started when I was a child and my parents gave me typewriters for Christmas presents. In the years after the presents, I wrote signs, announcements, letters, bad poetry, and whatever teachers told me to write (except for that 500-word final essay in 8th grade whose word count conjured a goblin that froze my mind — my only report card F). After growing up, my output expanded to letters to editors, school newsletters for students, newspaper articles, a support group newsletter, a church bulletin. After I was able to discover what being online was all about, and as our computer’s hard drive grew in its ability to juggle more than one or two pages at a time, I graduated to booklets, graphics-heavy Christmas letters to provide a use for all those photos, online discussions and blogging. Magazine articles were also part of the mix. Writing has always been a focus.
What hadn’t been a focus was satisfying the desire to create fictional truth, satisfying the itch to make a world, people it with interesting characters, and tell others what they got up to. I want to change that. The characters want to change that. It’s time to shift focus.
So NaNo and this blog are the gauntlet I threw down before myself. I completed the NaNo challenge, now to carry through and let the characters loose.