A Journey of Self Discovery, Pt. 2: Learning the Ropes
In my previous post, I talked about how a trip to the circus opened my eyes to new opportunities (clowning) and how clowning has helped bring me to writing.
About a year after I graduated clown school, my life was a bit stagnant. Too busy with school to do any clowning gigs, I would find myself knitting or reading in what little spare time I had.
But in October of 2009, I discovered NaNoWriMo.
I can’t recall how I found out about National Novel Writing Month — a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days that occurs every November — but I do know that something niggled at me to try it. I wrestled with questions of doubt for a few weeks. “Should I do it?” “Can I really write a novel?” “I’ve never tried something this big before.” “When will I find the time?” “I don’t even have any ideas.”
In the end, however, I signed up.
In the end, it was clowning that pushed me into signing up.
I’d never though of clowning before, but I tried it. Though I never mastered the art of juggling, I found I was decent at balloon animals and pretty good at face painting. And though I didn’t find the passion in clowning that Super Steve did, I did find the confidence to try new and different things.
After weeks of doubt, I finally said to myself, “Just try it. The worse that happens is you don’t finish. If you don’t finish, you find something else to try.”
Though I didn’t attend any of the regional events (write-ins, get together, parties), I connected with a lot of writers in the area through the NaNo forums and through Twitter. And by the end of November, I had lots of new friends and 56,000 words written in what is probably the poorest excuse for a YA fantasy.
Yea, it’s bad.
And even though that novel is abysmal, it’s still a novel. Granted, if I ever decide to revisit that novel it’ll need a lot of work, but the point is that I tried something and saw it until the end.
In the end, I learned that I really do have a strong passion for writing and so what if my first attempt at writing a novel was a train wreck? All that meant was that I had a lot to learn about the craft.
I didn’t just decide to try clowning and know how to face paint or twist balloons, I went to clown school and I learned those skills. Each time I use those skills I learn just a little more.
The same goes for my writing. I didn’t finish my first NaNo with a masterpiece; I have to learn the skills to write and revise the things that I write. Post my first NaNo, I began meeting weekly with a great group of writers who constantly teach me so much. They’re inspiring and all around awesome.
This past year, I completed my second NaNo novel, a contemporary romance very loosely based on real-life events. I learned a lot about my writing habits — I can’t write in large groups that are prone to get too social. I can’t outline to save my life. OneNote is awesome. NaNo is fun, but I don’t need it to finish a novel.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved NaNo. The insanity is exciting in it’s own special kind of way, but I don’t need the excuse of NaNo to write. I can write outside of NaNo, and I do. For me, NaNo was a reason to try writing. I tried it. I found I really loved it. This past year I think I kind of outgrew NaNo, and I’m unsure of whether I’ll continue doing it every November.
Somewhere between NaNo 09 and NaNo 10, I realized that I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t want to just talk about being a writer. I want to write all the time, not just in November. NaNo is a very social thing, if you attend all the events. While I loved attending them, I didn’t get as much writing done at them as I did on my own.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that I was taking my writing a lot more seriously this time around. My novel, “Mouse Games“, is something I can see being published — provided I can ever finish revising it (something I am still learning how to do).
Some people dislike NaNoWriMo, and while I’m unsure if I will continue it for a third year, it’ll definitely hold a special place in my heart. What are your thoughts on NaNo? Love it or hate it?