And (almost) let the noveling begin!

I admit, I’ve been slacking — after my promotion to editor in mid-October, I’ve found every possible reason not to work on my novels. I finished my second book in May, spent most of the summer editing it and then began the tiring, exhausting and frustrating experience of crafting the “perfect” query letter — only to be met with the demoralizing pain of generic rejections. And hey, it’s all right — I definitely didn’t expect this to be a cakewalk. I was proud that I’d finished two complete novels — start to finish, with editing, proofing and critiquing — in less than a year.

When I started a third in August, I was heavy into the querying process for the second book. Developing realistic, interesting characters engaging in fun, life-changing experiences fell to the back burner as I tried to find an agent to represent me. Though I won’t ever let the polite dismissals of agents discourage me from continuing to write, it is hard to receive e-mail after e-mail telling me thanks but no thanks. I write because I have to write, and I do write for me — but once you decide you’re going to try and become a published author, the game changes completely.

Well, all this procrastination and mental avoidance of the noveling issue is about to end — National Novel Writing Month begins tonight at midnight. I know some folks out there find it a bit silly and maybe just a tad insane, but NaNo was such an enlightening, entertaining and awesome experience last year, there’s no way I wouldn’t participate this go ’round. Cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days wasn’t too much of a problem for me last year, even working two jobs, getting ready for the holidays and attempting to spend time with my family and boyfriend. This year I’m in a much different place, but I’m still grappling with self-editing issues: I find it very hard to write and write and write without editing what I’ve written. I’m an editor by day, spending eight or so hours (roughly!) reading articles, press releases and proposals. To shift from scrupulous spell-checker to wildly uninhibited writer is a bit challenging.

And I’m terribly unprepared!

I’ve done no character sketches; I have no chapter outlines. I don’t know where the characters live or what they do for a living or whether they prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream or if they come from large families. I don’t know what type of car they drive, if they prefer the city or the country, whether or not they dream of taking a cruise on the Mediterranean.

All I know is that they’ve loved and lost — and that the relationships that bind them to their current friends and family are invaluable. I have picked out names for most of my main characters, mostly out of necessity — I didn’t know how I’d plunge into the story without any names. I guess I could have been lame and gone with “Main Character 1” or something ridiculous! But I got at least that far.

So here’s to the grand adventure that is letting go of your “inner editor” (as Chris Baty says) and writing with sheer literary abandon (I think he says that, too). If you’re noveling this year and want to swap progress, feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo! My profile is here.

Best of luck — to me and all of you!

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