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Writing a Novel


Heh, if someday people find this page via a Google search, they'll be disappointed. This is not a page about how to write a novel ;-)

No ... last November my father died, and at the same time one of my favorite LiveJournal friends was writing a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month -- NaNoWriMo -- and I suddenly decided that I wanted to write a novel also. I figured I would take part in NaNoWriMo 2003, and I blocked out the month of November in my PDA for this task (the idea is to write a novel in one month, no matter how bad it might be, without stopping to edit every little sentence along the way).

I suppose lots of people think about writing a novel, and some of those actually do so. A minority of those get their novels published somehow.

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However, this goal soon took on a life of its own.

I don't merely want to write a novel. No ... I will want to master the art of writing a novel to the best of my ability. There is no way I can do this in a month, as part of a mass exercise of word counting. No ...

It will take as long as it takes. And the story will be as long as the story needs to be. Perhaps the story-telling will continue for as long as I live, once I begin ... how will I be able to kill the characters I create?

By making this project into something I want to master, something I want to do seriously, while both entertaining myself and whoever might want to read along ... I've caused great inner turbulence. I've opened myself to wells of creativity I'd never have believed existed. I've given myself a form of second sight.

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I told myself that I would not write anything down about the novel until November 1, 2003, that I would spend the year prior to that time preparing myself mentally, brainstorming, doing light research about how novels are written.

I've read a few good novels, though I haven't immersed myself completely. I probably read more LiveJournals than anything else ... though reading LiveJournals might be good preparation for a novel as well ... these journals have opened my own perceptual well to the inner and outer turmoils surrounding scores of lives I would never have touched in real life.

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A couple times I've broken radio silence and have written something down about what I want to write. I even started writing a story back in June, and for a few days my obsessive thoughts paid attention to nothing else. That was a trial run, of sorts. I might return to that story in the future, but I don't think it will be my first novel ... though my first novel is still unformed, completely unformed, I have a completely open mind about where it will go, where it will take me, how it will transform my life.

And it will transform my life. I'm realizing more and more that this project will transform me at least as much as it might transform any readers who might stumble upon it.

I'm realizing more and more that this will become the most important struggle and achievement of the next year or two of my life. This will be for my late 30s what law school was for my early 30s -- the defining characteristic of my intentional life.

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And I'm not at all sure what I'm going to write about. And I'm trying not to start until November 1.


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