Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why I'm Breaking the Rules this November

It's that time of year again. It's two weeks before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins and writers everywhere are preparing or eagerly awaiting November 1st. Before October, I knew exactly what book I was planning on writing for NaNoWriMo. Then I was talking to my mother about NaNoWriMo (and how excited I was about writing it), one thing led to another and she had me thinking about using November to finish Traitors & Tyrants. In the end, I decided she had given me some good counsel.

I've put a lot of thought into my decision. I've been working on Traitors & Tyrants for two years; the prospect of working on a different project was refreshing and I spent a month trying to extract myself from that world. Quite frankly, the idea of working on Traitors & Tyrants was unappealing. As I've mentioned earlier, after loosing a lot of edits that were painstakingly added, I had to rush to complete at least half of them so I could finish my Writing Children's Books diploma. After submitting the manuscript to complete the course, I sent it off to my critique partners and decided I needed to take a break.

Now that I've lost my momentum, I've asked myself more than once if that was the right decision. I believe it was and I don't regret it, but getting back on the horse is a lot harder than it sounds. I'm still feeling the affects of losing so much work and its been difficult to begin preparing for NaNoWriMo. I'm two weeks from November 1st and haven't made a single move to prepare for it.

So why keep working on Traitors & Tyrants? After all, Stephanie, you seem to have lost all of your love for it.

Sometimes I feel like that. Sometimes I don't. But something my mom said keeps coming back to me. She read my first NaNoWriMo novel and has been a fan and a source of encouragement for my writing ever since. I count myself lucky to have someone like that in my life - especially a mother like that. As only a mother can, she basically told me to either decide that I'm done with Traitors & Tyrants for good and move on, or stick with it. How could I not ask myself that question after that? Was I done with Traitors & Tyrants? Was it time to close that chapter of my writing life and to move on to something else? Or was it time to see this one through to the end?

I've remarked more than once that I believed this novel could be the one. I've written novel after novel and, out of all of them, I believed that this could be the one I would begin to query - the one I would seek for publication. I still believe that it could make it. I also believe I could let this one sit in a folder I'll never open again if I let it. It'd be easy. In a lot of ways though, it almost feels like by turning my back on Traitors & Tyrants, I'm giving up writing for publication. After all, I've spent two years writing this and only this. Sure, there have been times when I wrote pieces of other stories. In the end though, a scene for Traitors & Tyrants always slips into my mind and I simply have to write it.

Throughout the past two years, I've thought about quitting. I thought I had passed those pivotal moments for this novel, and maybe they were, but I think this might be the decision that matters the most. I don't love it quite like I used to because I know that after losing those edits, the words will never come out quite the same way. I've lost that version forever and I loved that version.

It's been 5 months - almost half a year - since that one moment and I still feel the sorrow it caused. 5 months since I hurriedly patched up the novel so I could close it and not have to look at it again for a while. 5 months since I effectively turned my back on a story I had believed in for so long. These days, I am reminded of its flaws more than I am its virtues. I am reminded that those flaws had been fixed (or half fixed) before that fateful day 5 months ago.

That isn't good for the soul.

Therefore, I keep asking myself if I want to make this my NaNoWriMo project this November. Do I want to commit to it again? In the end, I decided it wasn't time to give up. I've come so far; it would be a shame to give up now when I still can't get my head completely out of the darn thing. NaNoWriMo has a history of helping me complete novels in an amount of time that is seemingly impossible every other month of the year. It has helped me conquer quite a few writing hurtles.

I know myself. I know that, when it comes to my writing, I work best under a deadline. So I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to go back and edit Traitors & Tyrants once more and, hopefully, find my love for it again.

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