Staying In The Step I Am In

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It’s Camp Nano this month. Well, ok, the month is nearly over, and so is this Camp, but the point is that Camp Nano was my jump-off point this season.

I am working on my novel, my first full-term fully-embodied fiction novel. Not a piece of non-fiction. Not a coaching piece. Not a knitting book. Not a big book full of stories, no matter the length. Not a book of poems.

A full-fledged novel. With a start, a middle and an end…and although Nano says aim for 50,000 words (every November–in April, the hows and whats of what you do is all up to you). I am thinking by the end of this draft, I will have more than fifty thousand words…and that’s only the first draft. I can’t tell you where the word count will go once I start editing and rewriting and whatnot.

Now, I have had this story, or at least bits of this story, running around my head for about twenty years. I thought I knew what I was writing. Until I sat down to write. It’s nearly the end of the month; I am about to begin writing the story again, from the beginning (this will be the third time) because the story has shifted on me…and I cannot go forward until I go back and fix the now incorrect pieces.

I had a moment, at the start, a week in, when I felt like stopping and starting over when I thought–no, I can’t do that –because that is not staying in the step I am in. Staying in my current step means : writing. writing writing writing. Not editing. Not correcting. Not worrying about grammar or punctuation. None of that. But. for three days, I fought the urge to start over. Then, I just did it. I was still writing, I determined; I was simply setting aside what I had already written, for now, maybe to be used again later, or treated in some way, later on. Doing that one thing made me entire body take a breath of relief. I had no issues continuing after that.

A few days later, I sat down and took my rough outline and fleshed it out a bit more. The story went off in a completely different direction (yes, yet again). Neither of my two beginnings will now fit or work with the narrative I am creating. Again, I found myself stuck…because to me it felt as if I were out of step with my writing work…and that I was in some way betraying the process I am working on and working with.

Yes, I can call it fear. I have been afraid I am doing it wrong. I have been afraid I am screwing it up. I have been afraid that the entire project is going to suck and no one is going to read it.

And then, I take a deep breath. Of course this is going to suck. This is my first draft. I will probably go through several drafts as I process what I am working on. Not to mention the critique and editing that will come from outside sources as I get closer to publishing.

There is no right or wrong way for me to write my own novel. As long as I am writing and making progress on my novel, I am doing it right.

If I screw it up, I screw it up. That’s what the drafting process is about. That’s what critique partners are for. That is what an editor is for. There are so many other steps that I am not ready to reach for yet that are in place to keep me from falling utterly on my face. It’s fine. I can do this.

If no one reads my book when it is done, so what? I wrote it. I am actually not writing my novel for you. I am writing my novel for me. I need to write this book to prove to myself that I can do this. This is the path I have been on since I was a pre-teen…and it is a path I have walked away from and allowed myself to be talked out of and allowed myself to be pushed away from — until I wasn’t even sure it was a path at all for me anymore.

Yet, in the past few weeks, the past few months, I have been trusting myself and listening to myself. I have been listening to the Universe. My heart, although fearful, swells up and nearly flies off any time I think of writing, of writing a novel, of being a novelist, of being a ‘real writer’ because you can’t be a real writer if you aren’t writing novels (no clue where that little tidbit embedded itself into my wacky little brain–but there is sits). I need to complete my novel for me.

Maybe no one will ever read this novel. Maybe no one will care. The point is I need to write this for myself…because already in the back of my head I can hear ‘if I can just finish writing this one, the next one will be so much easier, because I won’t be so unsure, because I will know I can do it…and I will do it…again and again.’

Plus, I know and I have faith that the people who need to read my book (for whatever reason) will find my book. The people who will enjoy my work will find me. Maybe in my lifetime. Maybe in my children’s lifetimes. Who knows? I am writing because that is what makes me happy.

It has been my dream for so long…I refuse to continue pushing forward in this life without managing to do my own work to make my own heart sing and to follow the purpose I feel I was put here to fulfill.

My path my shift and change. My purpose will remain the same. I have many avenues open to me. I plan to do all that I can to the best of my ability as I move forward. Right now, that means writing my novel.

Comments? Questions? Please leave them below.