I remember very clearly signing up to Nanowrimo for the first time. I was excited, eager and had absolutely no idea what I was going to write. But I'd committed to the process - so I had to get my act together and start writing and that's exactly what I did. 30 days later, I had just over 56,000 words on screen, I got the certificate, wore the t-shirt and boy was I proud of myself!
The other thing I did was tell everyone I knew that I was writing a book. I broadcast it to friends near and far, to family and of course posted about it on Facebook too. Soon everyone was excited on my behalf. I was buzzing from the attention of it all. This was new and suddenly I was interesting. People had something they could always talk to me about - my novel. How was it progressing? What's it about? When would it be finished? Self-publish or try and get an agent? There were so many questions and it spurred me on, gave me encouragement and all was generally good while I was still writing.
Nano was a great experience, but I realised that actually I didn't really know much about writing and so I read books, learned more, started and contributed regularly to a creative writing group, learned some more, went on a couple of one day courses and learned some more and at the same time, I continued to read other people's work to see how they did it. That was all great, but it made me realise that my initial Nanowrimo efforts really weren't that good. Yes it was 56,000 words but those words weren't something others would want to read. I knew that because even I didn't want to read them :-)
There were lots of things I hadn't known about, which now I do and these needed to be incorporated into my book. And so on I went. I did character interviews, developed my dialogue skills, realised that I needed more conflict and I learnt about show rather than tell. All this was great, but it was around this time that I started to get in my own way and the novel simply wasn't progressing. Many notes were made in journals, post it notes were stuck up, things were downloaded from the Internet and it looked like I was really busy writing my book. But I wasn't. I was enchanted by this new world. Lots of distractions but not much actual writing going on. And still others asked how it was going and I was able to comment about my progress and discuss this new world I was in.
After that I suffered from lots of mind issues. I felt guilty about spending time on it, particularly as I wasn't getting any further. I questioned whether I was good enough. I challenged the fact that I'd spent so much time on it and hadn't crossed the finishline. I was concerned that while I was doing this, I wasn't earning money from other things. I wondered whether it was all a pipe dream and I was just another of those people who started a novel, never to finish it. I let my inner critic run around wildly in my head and didn't rein her in
Actually I was a bit of a mess and I still had this unfinished novel and people still asked me how it was going. I avoided their questions, used diversion tactics and put the focus on them rather than me, because after all who wants to talk about guilt, lack of drive and an unfinished project.
And then I simply stopped writing it.
And I stopped writing it for a whole year and people stopped asking me about it.
But it seems this itch won't go away and needs scratching, so a year on it's back up on screen. Will I write it? I'm not sure. I may well reach exactly the same sticking point or a completely new one. I don't know yet. All I know is that this time I'm keeping quiet about it (apart from you guys reading this of course). But I know you can keep a secret can't you, so all is well.