When I signed up on a whim for the 2 day, 20,000 word weekend designed to kick off NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) I was hoping to get the word count in on a novel I began crafting a few weeks ago.
Arriving at the Alexandra Writer’s Centre (AWCS) in C-Space, I felt a little intimidated. There were about 20 people scattered between 3 rooms, laptops open in front of them, busily typing away at tables, sitting on the couches, or sprawled out in one of four easy chairs in the conversation corner.
Taking a reassuring breath, and after introducing myself to the host, Anne Meticosh (author of four books) I found a spot at a table, booted up my laptop and began to type.
Okay, so my diving into the weekend writing wasn’t quite that quick. To buy some time, and perhaps (ok. most definitely) to escape the terror of that blank screen, I went downstairs to the main floor and bought a latte. I checked out a few of the vendors as they set up for the Saturday morning Farmer’s and Maker’s Market and then I sat down in front of my laptop.
I still didn’t begin to type. I read and re-read the outline I’d developed for my novel and dove into the prologue of my story. After finishing it, and then the first chapter, I felt somewhat disoriented. While I was pretty sure what the issue was, I needed to clear my head.
You got it. I went for another latte and a longer stroll through the market.
It was while watching three dogs engage in a staring contest from the safety of their owners’ sides that it struck me what was wrong.
Unlike those dogs who were doing what came naturally to them, I didn’t know what came naturally to my characters. I hadn’t written their backstories and thus, couldn’t draw from the well of their ‘normal’ response to situations as I wrote.
Back upstairs at my table, I went back to the drawing board. I let go of my 20,000 word goal as I dug into writing out ‘what my story’s all about’ and crafting backstories for the people populating it.
It was a long, fruitful and deliciously inspiring weekend. Surrounded by fellow creatives, I dove into the mystical landscape of a story unfolding and while I didn’t get a lot of work done on the actual manuscript (no 20,000 word prize for me) I did come away with a better understanding of what the story is that I’m trying to tell, and even more importantly for me, why I want to write it.
Thank you AWCS, Anne and all the fellow creatives who filled that space with such wonderful energy and inspiration.
I am so thankful my whim to enter the weekend pushed, pulled, dragged and compelled me back to the writing well.
Next, I shall be blocking my days out to include ‘novel’ writing time along with my studio time. And… just to go all public on myself, my goal this month is the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count!
Wish me luck! (which also means I may not be here as much as I’ll be buried in story and delving into the craft!)