A figured a retrospective entry would be fitting for my last National Novel Writing Month post.
I went to my parent's place for Thanksgiving and, as is my usual routine, I spent a little bit of time in my old room, taking a stroll down memory lane and looking through all my old stuff. My old TV stand now houses all my binders of old writing -- angsty poems and journal entries and short stories as far as the eye could see. Usually, I flip through the pages, recollect on a more naive time, and leave them be. But, since I was already grabbing a garbage-bag full of old clothes to use for sewing projects, I decided -- hey, why not bring these home as well?
The majority of this stuff will never see the public light of day, so help me God. And, actually, I have a confession to make (I have a shoe obsession! Pinterest is my main source of inspiration!): I talk about my first and my second novel, but there's actually a bastard for-real-first novel. This little 150-page gem is something I wrote sometime when I was 15 (judging by the subject material, but more on that in a minute).
The premise itself is somewhat original: the main character is shot and killed in the first chapter of the book. The rest of the story is part retrospect, part whodunnit. But the actual meat of the story is nothing more than overly-dramatic people being angsty and unrealistic and the actual "whodunnit" is so insipid that it actually causes me physical pain to re-read.
One of my creative writing professors said that your first book is basically your autobiography. Although I've never been shot while staring out of my bedroom window, the retrospective part is practically my life. This is how I knew I wrote the book when I was 15: the heartbreaks and catty friendships I talk about in my first "book" is exactly what happened to me between the ages of 14 and 15.
Now, given, the - er - calibre of most YA this days (Hunger Games excluded), this book could probably pass as a decent young adult book. I mean -- hey -- add in a few sparkling demonic-but-brooding creatures and I could have a bestseller on my hands. But, for me, if this book were ever to be seen by the public, it would have to be completely gutted and rewritten before I could even think of polishing it up.
But, who cares? If there is any message for my last post, it's that the foundations of your writing don't have to be perfect. The same way I wouldn't berate my first grade self for terrible penmanship (ah, who am I kidding. I still have terrible penmanship), I can't be hard on myself for something I wrote in high school. And, furthermore, there's nothing wrong with basing your fictional characters on your real life. People are multi-dimensional beings, and whose frailties, fears, and complexities do you know better than your own? The only caveat here is that you still need to make the work sound believable. It doesn't matter if the things you write about actually happened in real life if the reader wouldn't buy it as fiction.
So I'm a little over 40,000 words. According to NaNoWriMo, if I write at least 1400 words a day between now and the 30th, I'll make the 50,000 word mark. We'll see what happens. Some days, I get nearly triple my goal in. Other days, I'm fighting tooth and nail just to write out 1000 words. And things are only going to get more challenging when I have the wonderful Florida weather and wedding events to distract me.
But I'm only 5 days out. Let's see what happens.
Remember; you can always follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo page (y'know, if your cable has gone out or something).