It's been a little while since I've tortured myself with a new creative goal (still trying to make myself forget the debacle that was my 52 Weeks Self Portrait Project -- that one I still need to revisit and complete). This new goal actually scares the crap out of me, but it's perfect because it will only take me a month, and there is a public online community to whom I can hold myself accountable, even if I never meet any of them. I also have some friends who are setting the same goal, and if they achieve it and I don't, I would just be embarrassed. I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo 2013.
It's something I've wanted to do probably since high school, but back then I hardly ever wrote anything. I took a creative writing class and did well, but when I look over the few pieces I still have that exist from that time, I'm glad that my hard drive crashed twice and the bulk of that work is lost forever. I didn't really become seriously interested in writing until my early 20s, which is when I began to push myself to create more involved photographs, with actual stories behind them. At first, I never wrote any of the stories, just thought about them as I was shooting and editing the photos. Then I did start writing them down, just very short stories, little exercises. It took years before I became confident enough to actually post any of them publicly.
I'm a lot less shy about that now -- I have hang-ups and I have to make everything perfect, and I read and re-read and re-edit and flip out and scream at every story as I'm completing it, but I'm able now to get to a place where I can be satisfied with a piece of fiction that came from my mind, enough to share it with others. But! I've only ever written short stories. Stories that are short even for short stories, never a novel, never anything close to 50,000 words (the minimum amount for a NaNoWriMo submission). Sometimes I can hardly get to just 1,000 words. When I officially committed to doing NaNoWriMo yesterday, I started panicking a little almost immediately. How will I think of a plot interesting enough to carry for that long? How can I develop a character that manages to stay compelling beyond two pages? How will I avoid plot holes and stay original in my story? How am I going to finish this in one month...
I'm feeling a little better about it this morning. I woke up thinking about my story, after beginning a few notes yesterday (and for those curious, you are allowed to have outlines/plot notes/brainstorms about your NaNoWriMo novel prior to November, you just cannot have any actual prose already written). I think I've settled into a basic idea of what this story will encompass. It's a slightly old idea that's gone in a totally new direction from where it began. Some people may remember the self portrait I made back in May titled The Water Bride. I said back then that I had been working on a story to go along with it, an historical fiction set in the time period of British imperialism in India. The protagonist was to be a young English merchant's daughter. I worked on it for a few weeks back then, but I never felt too great about it. I wasn't very excited to see the words develop on the screen in front of me, and it became sort of a chore. So I left it behind and thought that I might never get back to it. But in thinking about what I would like to write a novel about, I kept going back to that photo in my head, remembering some of the very initial ideas that floated around while I was making it. Mythology and foreign lands and adventure. I had to work last night so while I was there, I just thought about where else I could go with this "water bride" character. I bought a legal pad after work and began recording all of the things I'd been thinking about, and I'm glad to say that I'm fairly confident with the spot at which I've arrived.
I don't want to talk too much about it at such an early stage, but it seems like it will be some sort of fantasy/period fiction set at the turn of the 20th century with undertones of actual and psychological horror. I do have a lot of ideas I need to sort out now... So for the next two months, I'm going to be extremely busy and pre-occupied. I will definitely expect to disappear from my blog for most of November, but I'll try to update when I'm not being driven insane by my own self. October isn't over yet though, and I'm going to have a lot to say about the coming weeks. 2013 has been kind of blah as far as years ago, but it looks as though its conclusion is turning out to be quite exciting.
Now if only this hot weather would disappear!!