Happy Fall, Y’All!
I begin this note with the ‘good news’. My western short story “Onward We Must Go” has been digitally published by FrontierTales.com, and is FREE to read online this month! (Go ahead, click on over and come back to finish this blog.) Not sure you want to read something from the American pioneer times? Here’s the teaser to help you decide: “After consumption slowly kills their family in Kentucky, John packs up his surviving daughter, Tillie, and heads west for Colorado. Tillie is not happy. John is hiding a terrible secret.”
If you choose to read this dual-journal style story, let me know if you liked it or not. And, please be sure to VOTE for your favorite October Frontier Tales submission (using the box in the center of the home page). Each monthly winner will be physically published in the Frontier Tales 2022 Anthology!
Now, on to the more tantalizing ‘crazy news’ . . .
In case you were unaware, November is known as National Novel Writing Month. An organization called NaNoWriMo (a shortened version of the longer title) encourages ANYONE to sit and write a down-and-dirty 50,000-word rough draft—all within the measly thirty days of November. A WHOLE BOOK! IN ONE MONTH! Crazy, right? I agree.
But, you guessed it—I’m going to attempt this very thing come the 1st of November! Why on earth would I do that to myself? Because, I want to grow. I want to force myself to plan and outline a novel before typing a single word. You see, I’m what’s known in the writerly world as a “pantser” (because I typically write ‘by the seat of my pants’). A planner and a plotter, I am not. Also, I have a terrible habit of going back to edit my writing as I go along, thus greatly lengthening the time it takes to simply finish the narrative. Therefore, I’m using NaNoWriMo to force myself to muddle on through, to feel the rise and fall of the character and story arcs as they come naturally, in the moment, just as a future reader will.
I’m not going to start from ground zero (I’m not THAT crazy). My plan is to take a short story I wrote last year, and (ironically) blogged about November of last year: The Science of Stars. I want to use its futuristic setting and the characters for this project, because they’ve stuck with me all year—even while I’ve been focusing on Fable #3 and the elf novel. However, I still need to build a novel-length tale out of last year’s short story, and therein lies the fear. There’s A LOT of work to do.
I spent September thinking about the world, the future broken society in which my novel will take place. I made notes about the main characters and what drives them, what scares them, what they hope to accomplish. Now that it’s October, I’ve been focusing more on a chapter-by-chapter outline. Not a detailed map, more like a phrase or three about what could happen within those pages.
And now? Today? I’m panicking.
I’ve outlined around three-quarters of the book so far, but am now stuck. So I write to you. I distract myself from one writerly thing by doing another. Hopefully, this will reset my brain a bit and allow me to continue to plan. Because—I want to do this crazy thing for myself, yes, but also for you—my readers. I want to grow as a writer and hone this craft of words and emotion and tension-building. I want to move my readers and make them think. I know November will change me as a writer and I can’t wait to see how it will do so.
Hopefully, this mad-dash approach to writing a novel will not break me. I ask for your support. Send me good thoughts and pray I don’t give up two weeks into the project. I know they say NaNoWriMo drafts will be terrible—but the perfectionist in me is horrified by this notion. I want to write WELL, but I need not concern myself with perfection at this point in the game, and need to be reminded.
If you want to follow my progress next month, I’ll be posting on my @AuthorCSSimpson social media accounts frequently with the current word-count, my snack choices, and other random updates. Feel free to send me a note to encourage me or make me laugh.
Also, if you’d like to JOIN me in this creative insanity, it’s not too late! Head to na0nowrimo.org, sign up, and add me as a writing buddy (CS_Simpson). I’d LOVE to freak out over plot and words and who-knows-what with you.
Now, I must bid you au revoir. It is time for me to return to my dark mental cave and plan, plan, plan. Then, November 1st, I will endeavor to attempt the beautifully absurd, and write the first novel-length draft of The Science of Stars.
I hope to remerge intact on December 1st and update you on the progress I made in November. Wish me luck!