The one about how I’m hating my novel

I mentioned a few posts back that I began writing a book.

I started toying with the idea of putting a book together after I started this blog and reconnected with my love of writing, and one day I just decided to sit down and hammering it out.

A few hundred words in, a friend of mine told me about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a project that encourages writers to create a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th.

To be honest, I don’t know much more about the project other than I’ve registered on the NaNoWriMo page, and I go there to input my word count whenever I get around to writing.

I’m usually a pretty prolific writing. In college I’d been known to bang out 20,000 word essays in just one night. And at first with the novel the worst were just flying off my fingers. But something happened in the middle of it all.

I started to HATE my story.

As background, for my first novel I settled on a piece of fiction about a woman living alone in New York City, and how she goes from living a fairly meaningless and uninspired life to reinventing her existence into something that made her infinitely happier. (PS: There is no yoga involved in this novel)

The characters and everything that happens to them are based on people I know, but not on their lives. For example, the main character Mallory is someone I based very loosely on my sister. Mallory’s life and personality don’t look that much like my sister’s life, except in that they are both single women living alone in NYC. The things that happen to Mallory, the people she meets… most of that is a mish-mash of things that have happened to people I know.

While I only have a vague idea of the story arch for Mallory’s renaissance, I know there are three messages I want to send with the story:

  • Your life is always changing, and one chance meeting, one book, one conversation, or one new person could lead it in a completely different direction – a good direction, a bad direction, you never know. Things are always changing and the Universe is so unpredictable one small molecule out of place could knock you “off course” permanently.
  • There are people who come into your life and change your way of thinking forever. I can think of a number of those people off the top of my head. I may not be closer to them anymore, but they changed me in a really meaningful – even if they don’t know it. My dear friend Sandra, who was like a second mother to me when I was in college away from home in California, is a great example of this. The loooong philosophical conversations we had in her living room shaped a portion of my mind – and her imprint lives on, even though I now see her somewhat infrequently.
  • You need to make yourself vulnerable to let people change you. Most of us go around not working for what we want for fear of not getting it. We’re always protecting ourselves from others – even those we love the most. Or maybe ESPECIALLY those we love the most. I learned early on in my therapy that becoming vulnerable to my anxiety was one of the best ways to beat it, but I didn’t apply that concept to other aspects of my life or relationships until much later on.

So the problem is that while I have a lot of practice blogging – a style of narrative writing where you mostly pour out thoughts rather than describe scenes, dialogue or details – a novel actually has to have things HAPPEN.

And the things that are happening to Mallory so far are really, really TRITE.

I don’t want to write about yoga or anxiety or being a parent in this novel because I want it to be about more than just me. I want to speak my message in the story of someone else, but so far I think Mallory is a huge twit. Not only that, I can’t for the life of me make exciting things happen to her.

It’s really terrible.

So I’m not writing as much as I would like, and if I can eek out 600 words a day it’s like a little bit of a miracle. At the same time, I’ve written nearly 7,000 words and I don’t want to scrap the whole thing – sunk costs being what they are and all.

But honestly, I’m not interested in spending 43,000 more words writing a superficial, cliched romance novel – and one with no sex or any sort of excitement at that.

I’m seriously considering taking a U-turn and leading Mallory on a round-the-world shoplifting spree to salvage the enjoyment in writing this manuscript.

Wish me luck, folks.

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2 thoughts on “The one about how I’m hating my novel

  1. So apparently this is pretty normal to hate what you’re writing. It’s the internal critic, I’ve experienced it myself. Push through it. Sounds like your character has come alive and she’s a twit, a perfect beginning for the themes you describe above! Did you tag this post nanowrimo? I’ve found it helpful to read nanowrimo posts on the reader. My favorite one so far I posted on 1874 FB page. Keep writing! Feel free to stay in touch even daily with me. We can do this!!

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