Lately I've been feeling more and more like an actual writer. This instead of feeling like someone who just thinks they want to write. It's a subtle difference, but it's a difference of confidence, and that can never be a bad thing.
The novel is actually going pretty well. I'm now seven chapters into it, with roughly 35 or so planned. I have almost 11,000 words which means I'll probably be right around 50,000-60,000 when this first draft is finished. Then of course comes the just-as-many hours of editing which, honestly, I think will be just as much fun as the writing. This is already the longest thing I have ever written in my life, surpassing my senior thesis in college.
To me I had a strong feeling I really wanted to do this, but even so I'm surprised at how much fun I'm having. I've been writing for years in a totally different kind of environment so I didn't expect that. I'm used to having my narrative constricted by silly things like "facts" and "quotes" and "reality." When all of that only lives in my brain before I put it on paper (or, more accurately, type it on screen), there is this sense of freedom I'm loving.
I have to give credit to both writing classes I took, which I have previously mentioned. The first one, for me, validated my raw skills as a writer. In that group I think my offerings compared well and people seemed to enjoy them.
Still, I felt a lot of trepidation about actually starting a novel. I mean, I had this idea I thought could be interesting, but where does one start to make it reality? From Lani Diane Rich I learned quite a bit about how to actually prepare for writing. The best part about her class was learning these concepts of helping one create the right environment to produce the words were very similar to the ideas I had in my head.
One exercise had to do with casting your characters. Another had to do with writing their backstories (this was awesome - I came up with a whole mess of delightfully evil tidbits). Another with the collage in the previous link. All of these things helped me get the story right in my mind. I then found myself able to map out the entire book, to blueprint it by chapter, and now all I need to do is keep writing. It's funny to me how as I went through the process I ended up changing just about all of my characters. Their ages changed, their roles changed (I actually should re-cast). The scenes and concepts changed as I gathered data on settings and character details. In fact, that collage? Not accurate anymore.
That's not saying it's not useful - it's the idea of the collage, of what it represents, that still works for me, just not the specific details. The same holds true for another exercise, one about creating a soundtrack for the story. For me, the songs I chose don't necessarily tell the story, but listening to them it allows my mind to think about the story, to wander. I think I'm inspired more by a well-written songs with good melodies rather than the specific lyrics themselves. They allow my brain to relax (which is very nice when I have a 45-minute commute each to and from work).
I have one little issue holding me back from fully saying I AM a real writer though. I don't seem to have the ability to write anywhere at any time. I feel as if I need a certain amount of time, such as the 60-90 minutes it takes me to craft a draft of a chapter of 1,500-2,000 words. I like to have solid beginning and ending points, so stopping in the middle of a chapter feels like it would be problematic (I don't know, since I haven't allowed myself to actually do it).
Oh well. How much fun would it really be if there were no struggles and breakthroughs?
Speaking of feeling like a writer, tomorrow I'm going to do my first writing in a coffee shop! That's what real writers do, right?