My Messy Novel Writing Journey: Introduction
I love writing, obviously, but I hate writing. Blog writing is one thing. I can force myself to write internet articles all day long. I hate to say they’re mindless, but let’s call it what it is. I’m not going to be winning a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon for my contributions to the blog-o-sphere.
Writing pays the bills, for one, and I do enjoy eating regularly. Not to mention there are few things in my life so simultaneously relaxing and exhilarating as dimming the lights and sitting down with one of my favorite records (yes, I’m that girl) and a glass of pinot grigio (I’m also that girl) to write something creative.
My creative non-fiction story was recently published in my own magazine Capulet Mag. You can read it on Medium. It’s about the time I was robbed by a cab driver in Paris. It’s maybe 800 words, yet it took me months to write. There were crappy first drafts, crappy second drafts, and so on. I’m still not happy with it, but my co-editor Isabelle convinced me to go ahead and publish it.
I’ve written academic reviews for journals and magazines, but I wouldn’t define those as “creative” in the same way as fiction or even creative nonfiction. I like writing academic essays (yes, I’m that nerdy girl, too). That’s not The Big Goal, though. My Big Goal, like all the pretentious English majors before me, and the millions that will come after, is to write The Next Great American Novel.
Luckily, my expectations aren’t as lofty as that. I’ll leave the classics to The Greats like Ezra Pound and Stephanie Meyer…I kid, sort of. Nope, no Greats for me. I’ll settle for The Next Great Trashy Romance or The Next Great Smut That Lands Me a Daytime Television Spot. Maybe even a Hulu miniseries, but that might be pushing it.
This new series is out of the bounds of what I usually publish on Samanthability. It’s not going to teach you how to publish better blog posts or even how to be a better writer. It’s just me angry-ranting about my favorite craft. If you’ve ever tried to write something somewhat cohesive, you can probably relate to this struggle.
My Writing History
I’ve been writing my whole life, but I didn’t attempt a legit novel until my semester abroad with Semester at Sea. I made it to over 30k words, and the plot was heavily inspired by my travels.
How did I write over half of a novel while traveling the world? Simple. There was no internet on board the ship. This meant I would be forced to go 7+ days at a time with no texting, no Googling, no distractions. I also had the prettiest writing setup to rival that of Byron or Hemingway. There are no distractions when it’s just me, the never ending ocean breeze, and the widest sky.
My writing goals were put on hold during college. I was an English major, as I’ve mentioned only 5 billion times before on this blog. I was averaging 3+ essays a week, so novel-writing didn’t really fit into this equation.
I graduated in April of 2017, and I wrote my first novel in November of 2017. I did it in 26 days, and I will always take the chance to humble-brag about that accomplishment. For those of you not familiar with National Novel Writing Month, it’s basically a challenge to write 50k words in the month of November. I had tried the challenge at least 3 times in the past, all failures. I just wasn’t taking no for an answer this time. This really opened my eyes to the fact that, yes, I could actually do this.
My Current Project
After finishing that novel in November, I dove into the editing process. That’s when I realized how garbage it was. That’s the thing about writing a full novel in less than 30 days. It wasn’t exactly organized or even half-way decent. It had its moments, but on a whole, It was messier than an episode of Hoarders.
I edited it down to a second draft. I was fighting for this garbage story. Let me tell you. I wanted it to work. I convinced myself that if I squinted really hard, it was somewhat decent. I’m done with deluding myself. It’s not good.
That brings me to draft 3. I’m 4 chapters in, and it’s still not great. But it’s better. I’ve scrapped most of the original story into the word wasteland where it belongs, and I have taken to repurposing the parts that didn’t bring me to tears. It’s not pretty, but it might work.
This new series on novel writing is going to keep me accountable. Hopefully. At the very least, it’s a way for me to connect with other writers who might be struggling with similar sentiments.
Without further ado, here are my current stats. Don’t worry, I’m cringing for you.
Word Count: 6683
Chapters: 3 Completed, 1 in progress
Characters: 1 Major, 4 Minor
Genre: ??? Dystopia??? YA??? UNCLEAR!!
“Welcome to Whitekeep.” The girl didn’t waste any time, reaching over to grab my bag from my shoulders. “We still have a ways to go.” I didn’t understand what she was talking about until I saw the small four-wheeled open vehicle parked near the road. The girl who looked to be no older than me swung my bag into the back seat, motioning for me to take the front next to her. Confused, I took the seat she offered. She waited while I buckled my seatbelt, still feeling a walking dream.
I’d be lying if I said I knew what I was doing. Thankfully, I think that’s a widely felt truth of being a writer, so maybe I’m doing something right.
I’d like to update every other week about how my progress is coming along. We both know that probably won’t happen, but now you can shame me about it. I’ll be talking about the things that work, the things that don’t, and why I hate/love writing so much. Maybe one day I’ll have a published novel to show for it. Maybe I won’t.
Bring lots of wine. I’m going to need it.