It’s that time of the year, y’all! When the clock strikes midnight I am joining the rank of writers around the world will pull out of a fresh piece of paper (or, more likely, open up a new Word document) and try to write 50,000 words by November 30, 11:59pm.
I’m not even a writer, though! I don’t mean it in a self-depreciating way. I’m just not one of those people with a burning desire to write fiction. But! I want to be able to do it. I admire and value the creativity it takes to write fiction (and creative non-fiction). I consider creativity the key aspect of all intelligence. And I like to believe I am an intelligent person. So. It disturbs me deeply that I have never completed an original piece of fiction.
Yes I do write, usually short stories or novellas, but they were always rooted in someone else’s imagination. I wrote a one-shot based on fictionalized versions of my friends: it was hilarious at the time but is embarrassing to re-read. I also wrote a gender-bent version of the movie Killer Joe which taught me that flipping gender roles does not make misogynist shit better. And I have written tons of fanfiction for my friend’s work-in-progress.
My stumbling block isn’t lack of creativity (I’m a smart girl, remember? :P) but lack of dedication. I think world-building (and whatever the non-SciFi/Fantasy equivalent is called) is key to a properly crafted story but… I’m too lazy to put in the work. World-building is HARD and requires RESEARCH and THINKING and BAH! I’ll just use the world so-and-so created…
Which is how I end up with fanfiction (or a narrative littered with tropes and cliches). So this year I’m going to try to do better. My NaNoWriMo isn’t just about reaching 50K. It’s about writing 50K original words.
My Game Plan
Since I have a different end goal, I can have different rules, right? Right. First off I didn’t wait til Nov 1. I currently have roughly 5000 words written and I’m totally counting them toward the 50K. I need all the help I can get! I plan to dedicate 8pm to 9pm strictly to writing and squeeze more in whenever I have moment/the Spirit moves me. For accountability, y’all can keeps tabs on me/nag me on Twitter where I’ll post my daily words-to-date goals every morning and my actual words-to-date total before I go to bed. And, to keep me from getting bored, I jump back and forth between eight (or more?!) stories.
I’m really excited about the stories I’m working on! I’m going to tell y’all what they are so when I inevitably start crying about how much I hate writing, y’all can remind me that these are all great ideas.
- “Sex worker rebuilding her community.”
Not much I know, but my original idea was “unassuming john and sex worker fall in love” which is so boring. Then I started thinking about characters like Trànsito Soto in The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, Violette in The Island Beneath the Sea (also by Allende), and Sharifa in Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Sadaawi and remembered that centering the woman’s power and agency always made for a more compelling story. So I’m dropping the john and focusing on my heroine.
- “Newlywed couple possessed by newlywed ghosts who are eager to consummate their ghost marriage.”
Hilarious, right?! Ghost couple’s just trying to get it in but the stupid live-bodies are being all annoying and “resisting possession” and whatnot. If I had been more diligent this story would have been done for Halloween.
- “Angsty will-they/won’t-they romance between two old friends.”
This one will be totally character- and chemistry-driven. And there will be loads of angst and drama and I love you but am I IN love with you?! Yeah. Funtimes.
- “Movie star and fan have a long distance, secret love affair until it is exposed by the paparazzi.”
This couple either meets at a film festival or at a comic-con. This has nothing to do with me volunteering at TIFF and attending FanExpo. Really. (But if you know a hot movie star, feel free to slip him my number!)
- “Young woman marries a man to help him get legal immigration papers in the US or Canada.”
This is a not-so-new twist on marriage of convenience trope but I’m aiming for less kitschy and more emotional and true. I want to look at how their perceptions of each other change as they get to know one another, and how a marriage based on something other than love can work. Haven’t decided if they’ll be deeply in love by the end. (Knowing me the answer is probably yes.)
- “As the Earth collapses, an alien race helps select humans rebuild their population on a space refugee colony.”
This story is also known as SEX FOR THE GOOD OF THE SPECIES! When I started reading The Best of all Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, I got very excited because I thought that was the premise of the book. But Lord took the more social sci-fi (anthropological sci-fi? is there such a thing?) route, leaving the sex subplot almost completely untouched! So I’m gonna milk that bad boy. I may also throw in some characterization in there. But mostly it’ll be sex. :)
- “Disney’s Cinderella and Mary Queen of Scots mash-up.”
It is quite brilliant in my head. There’s a stepmother, a battle for the throne, political alliances and sabotage, a love triangle, and fairies.
- “14 year old girl goes to a new high-school. It is a school for magical black girls.”
This story came to me as an exchange:
“Why do they keep attacking me?!”
“To make you forget your magic.”
From there I started thinking about a world where black girls were literally magical and everyone is trying to strip them of their power. It’ll be interesting for sure.
All these stories will have culturally diverse characters and I will push myself to consider and include other marginalized identities as well.
That’s it, that’s all! What do you think? With all the thought I’ve put into this, NaNoWriMo should be a piece of pie… I hope?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Share your goals, tips, and links in the comment sections!
In the interest of full disclosure: This post was written as a procrastination technique. I was supposed to be working on my stories… November is going to suck. TT__TT