Last November, at the behest of my sister, I participated for the first time in NaNoWriMo. Though I had previously turned up my nose at this yearly event–I thought it was for amateurs–it was a fun, inspirational, and instructive month.
The previous year I had been laboring on my young adult novel, Scion of Wornten, which had turned out to be a tough project. For a change of pace, I decided to tackle a middle grade book that had been niggling at the back of my head for a couple of months. While still laboring on Scion, I stole bits of free time during October to outline the new book, filling in characters and scenes at my whim. By the time November finally rolled around, I put Scion away, gave my creative mind free reign, and went to work.
Writing The Doorlands was fun. I attached to it no big dreams. I wasn’t concerned with getting published, launching a career, or even finding an interested agent. Instead, I focused on my characters, the fun magic system I had come up with while staring into the corner during a long Scion rewrite, and whimsy. Every middle grade novel should contain some whimsy.
By the end of November I had written a little over 60,000 words in The Doorlands. The novel was very nearly done. Those chapters left unfinished I outlined thoroughly, pressed save on the document, and abandoned it.
There it sat in my computer for several months until I gave it to my wife for a first reading. She liked it. She told me it was the best thing I had ever written. I grinned and kept working on Scion.
Fast forward–is it cool to still use that term post VCRs?–to this month. Sick of looking at Scion, languishing in its 3rd draft, I decided to write a new novel, something completely different. Drawn is an urban fantasy for adults. It shares little in common with either Scion or The Doorlands. But like my previous NaNo experience, I’m trying to complete 50,000 words in one month. And I’m close now, 45,000. Last weekend, for no reason I can discern, I decided it was time to start rewriting The Doorlands. It called to me.
I have read 6 chapters, making notes as I progress, correcting only the most egregious mistakes (mostly grammatical), and I’m enjoying myself immensely. This remains a fun story full of friendship and adventure and strange worlds. I find myself, as arrogant as it may seem, looking forward to reading more that way I would another author’s novel. Of course, that’s what it feels like–a book written by someone besides me. Whoever wrote it he’s pretty good. He could use some advice, some moderate editing, but I’m happy to give it. Perhaps together we’ll find a market for this little gem.
— david j.