Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fiction! What a novel idea!

"Indecision may or may not be my problem." - Jimmy Buffett

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us. For several months, I planned to be a NaNoRebel and write From My Bed to the Half Marathon (titles aren't my thing) a memoir about my journey into athleticism. I had made a list of possible topics and scenes to show my transformation from a woman who has trouble getting out of bed most mornings due to chronic depression to a woman who still has trouble getting out of bed many mornings, but who gets out of bed anyway so she can go run with her dog.

With this memoir in mind, I went to the NaNoColumbus kick-off party on Sunday, October 30th. Forty or fifty Wrimo's (that's what the people who sign on for this literary adventure call themselves) showed up at the Karl Road library meeting room to eat snacks, drink coffee and talk about what we were planning to begin writing a mere 48 hours from then. The energy was palpable with laughter, squealing and lots of stickers. Anne and Carrie, our municipal liaisons facilitated discussions, brought food, and offered clay for the making of little totems to carry us through the month.

As the Wrimos writing fiction enthusiastically discussed their novels, I grew melancholy. They were so excited about their characters and their plots and the traveling shovel of death (this is a mythical shovel that magically appears in novels and kills off one of the characters). I felt jealous. They intended to liberally apply ninjas to any scene that wasn't working or, if a character wasn’t cooperating, to simply end their world in a cataclysmic event and then have the main character wake up the next day to say it was only a dream. I wanted in on this wacky world of creative abandon, but I put it out of my mind and resolved not to change gears so few hours before the start.

I spent Halloween day working on the newsletter only half aware that my subconscious was developing an idea for a novel. As I was posting the November writing events to my website, it dawned on me that I could still write about running. I could write about fictional characters in a running group. I began to get excited. Instead of shoving the ideas aside as I had when I was locked into my decision to write memoir, I let the thoughts come. One of the runners could have a dog. Two of the runners could fall in love. One of the runners could be a middle-aged woman just figuring it all out as she goes along. One of the runners could be murdered on the trail by a ninja with a shovel. The options were endless. My enthusiasm exploded and I stayed up until midnight and beginning writing the novel Love on the Trail (I warned you titles weren't my thing) at 12:01AM November 1st.

I will allow myself to write a very bad first draft since this is, after all, NaNoWriMo and not the National Book Awards. If I can step out of the way, it will write itself. At least that's what I'm counting on.

What are you working on this month? Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo? If not, what kind of structure do you use to get the work done?