Day 0: Disbelief
The day you finish is a day of mixed feelings. It's hard to explain what happens when you finish your first draft of a novel. Or, at least, it's hard to explain what happened to me. My first urge was to just continue writing. How was I supposed to know if I had made a satisfying ending for my reader? But after adding 100 words (that will probably all get cut out later), I ended it. No, I didn't write "The End" at the bottom, though in hindsight, I wish I would have. But, I did compile it into a Manuscript and save it as "Katherine's Destiny - First Draft."
But then what are you to do? I think the best approach is to spread the word. Some people know you have been writing; some have noticed your distance even if they didn't know the reason; others had no idea.
The first thing I did was email my writing partner, without whom I couldn't have finished. Then I text my husband. Well, to be more precise, I blew up his phone with dozens of texts meant to convey my shear bliss. Then I posted about it on Facebook; then Twitter; then I called my parents; and so on. And after that was all over, I sat down to enjoy the rest of January 16, 2014--the day I finished the first draft of my first novel.
What with this being National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writing has been on my mind lately. I spent the last two weeks of October busily plotting my novel, making storyboards, and creating character profiles. My story was pretty much my only thought. I anxiously awaited November 1st like it was Christmas, hoping that my story would unwrap itself in one swift flow.
But then November 1st actually came. I sat down at my computer with all of my planning and, then, nothing. Nothing. I had no idea how to start. I wrote something and thought, "that sounds stupid," and deleted it. Of course, the point of NaNoWriMo is to write as quickly as possible, without thinking about quality, in order to achieve the end goal of writing 50,000 words. So, on the very first day, I was already failing.
Despite the point of NaNoWriMo, I want to write a story that people want to read. I always have. And it is hard for me to move past that desire and just write whatever. The funny thing is that I have a story - and it's a story I think people would want to read - it's just that I don't know how to write the story to make sure people want to read it. Every time I write a piece of my novel, I realize how uncomfortable I am with fiction writing. It's as if law school, blogging, and life in general beat any creative writing skills I had right out of me.
But then today, I came to a magical realization. In an effort to avoid writing, I turned on the TV. It's Sunday morning, so of course, there was nothing on. But then magic happened: I noticed that episode four of "Witches of East End" was playing on Lifetime. Generally, I love any show dealing with magic and witches, so fate intervened, and I decided to watch the first episode On Demand.
The story is just such a cool concept. These four witches are cursed, and two of them are reborn and raised by their mother every thirty years or so. This time, the girls are in their late twentys, and their mother hasn't told them they are witches. Of course, the secret bubbles over and everyone finds out. But just the idea of the mother having to re-raise her children and lose them when they reach thirty is fascinating. And so I was hooked.
But here is the interesting part, this is NOT a good show. The acting is on par with the worst soap operas; the writing is cheesy as hell. No bad joke is left untold. No stupid line is left unsaid. But even worse, it so unbelievably unrealistic. I watch it and find myself thinking that no character would ever act like that. But here I am marathon watching it.
And now that I think about it, this isn't the first time that I have been obsessed with something bad. I think everyone can agree that Fifty Shades of Gray is horribly written. Yet, I marathon read the books, soaking in every horribly written word. Same story with Twilight. Even Hunger Games isn't written that well, and I loved it too. But all three of these books had a story and characters that I wanted to know more about. I wanted to know what happened. Strike that: I needed to know.
So, what's my point? It doesn't matter if you can't write beautiful prose. It only matters that you know how to tell a story. And since I already have my story waiting to be told, all I have to do is sit down and write it. Bad writing be damned.
Rachel Paxton is a typer of words in Dallas, TX.