For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer when I grow up. I wrote my first story when I was five, with the help of my grandma. It wasn't a picture story; it was a word story about a leaf that was blown away to Australia. It came out to one single spaced page of my grandma's small, neat cursive.
When I was in elementary school, story writing was a part of every day work. I have my second grade writing journal that has a bunch of five sentence "stories". In middle school, story writing became less prevalent as analytical writing became more important. Instead of writing stories for class, I wrote them for myself. I recall starting a novel one summer. At least, I thought it was going to be a novel. After 20 pages or so, I lost the notebook I was writing in and promptly forgot my mission.
In high school, I turned to journaling instead of story writing. I wrote a handful of short stories for classes, but rarely just because. My life was story enough to fill seven notebooks of various sizes, written mostly in very small print. My boyfriend and I traded short stories of our alter-egos in 10th and 11th grade, and I wrote a short story for my sex god* when I was in 12th grade. I still wanted to write stories when I grew up, but figured my journals would be good source material (I was right).
In college, I balanced out my journaling and story writing by journaling while I was in lectures, and writing stories while other people were studying. Don't worry, I graduated with a 3.58. Writing was a much more important use of my time than studying for classes I didn't like. (English 421, I'm looking at you. Seriously, how are you going to tell me that Shakespeare's writing was meant to be literature, not dramatic writing?) I wrote mostly short stories, but I started a novel the summer between my third and fourth years. I wrote (with a pen on paper) every night for at least 20 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. Then senior year started, and I was taking 17 credit hours and working two shows. My notebook was set aside for everything else. Second semester was less brutal credit wise, but I commuted two hours to school Tuesday mornings and from school Thursday afternoons and worked the overnight stock shift at Kroger Thursday through Monday. And I was pregnant with Gabriel. Plus I designed the set for a show. I was too busy to keep up with journaling, never mind story writing. I would right a page or two every now and again, but nothing regular.
I didn't pick up the novel again until I was pregnant with Mara. When I moved to Kentucky, one of the few things I brought during the initial move was the novel. I made sure to write a page every night, and finally it was done. Two years later, though, and it is not typed up. I have started typing it, but I feel like something is holding me back. I think I am just terrified that people will read the story, if it is written. I know that is silly; isn't the point of writing a novel so that other people can read it? I am just nervous that something that I put so much of myself into will not be well received.
What does this have to do with anything? In a couple of hours, National Novel Writing Month will begin. The idea is to write a novel, 50,000 words, during the month of November. The novel should be a new work, and should be typed so that you can submit your document for a word count. You can read more about it at nanowrimo.org.
If you decide to join, my handle is BunniPhish (surprise!) - feel free to add me as a writing buddy. My plan is to write the sequel to the first novel. The characters have been trying to talk me into it since I set down my pen for the first novel. I've written a few notes, but most of the information is in my head. I am hoping this challenge gives me the kick I need to get this part of their story down. And maybe, just maybe, if I have the second story all typed up, I will feel motivated to type the first story.
I'll let you know how it ends up in 30 days.
*That person in high school who you fantasize about, but never actually get.