Tuesday, January 31, 2012
As I mentioned in Day One, I am writing a novel and have completed about 2/3 of it. I signed up for NaNoWrimo to give myself the challenge and "extra push" to finish. I managed to add another 18K words, which was great, but did not finish the novel. Then I set January 1 as my completion date, which has, obviously, come and gone. Although I've been posting fairly regularly here, I haven't worked on my novel in over two weeks.
When I was teaching High School English, I wrote letters to my classes. They had little to do with English, other than reading the letters and responding; they dealt with issues such as self-care, balance, and procrastination. Their assignment was to read the letter (which included lots of questions to make them think) and write a response. They received a letter each month, and I always looked forward to their replies. It was a great tool to get to know them, and to let them get to know me. It opened up a communication between us that resulted in some remarkable honesty. It was my favorite assignment, and many of my students enjoyed the exchange and the opportunity to open up and share things.
My original idea was to have a book -- more of a "how-to" with examples -- of the letters I had written over the years and samples of the kids' responses. I ran into copyright and privacy issues, so I decided to novelize it. In the novel, I follow a teacher, and a handful of students throughout the school year, detailing their lives through the letters. Currently, in the plot, they are wrapping up spring break and heading back to school. I still have the April and May letters, along with the storyline, to complete.
But I'm stuck.
One of the things I have enjoyed about writing this blog is that I can work on a piece and then publish. I receive instant gratification -- my favorite kind! Not necessarily in the form of comments or "likes" but I've gotten something out there. I don't know about other writers, but writing a novel takes me a long time. Instant gratification is a pipe dream. Besides, these posts are a whole lot shorter than my novel. No plot to remember or characters to move forward. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what to do next with my characters OR my plot. Sometimes it helps me to just write, but it frustrates me as well because it takes me forever to get something the way I want it. I know that celebrated authors and writing experts say to just get the first draft done. Out of my head and into the computer. (Fact: I wrote my first novel in longhand, then typed it. Thank God I've figured out how to write on the computer! Sometimes I miss writing in longhand....). I. CAN'T. MAKE. MYSELF. DO. IT.
So I'm still stuck.
I'd love suggestions, comments, wacky ideas to help me get back in the saddle. Send 'em on!
Have your creative juices stopped flowing? What did you do to remedy the situation?
Have you been there?