This year was my 8th consecutive year in a row of competing in National Novel Writing Month. I first started in 2009. I didn’t win until 2012, winning again the following year. I got lost along the way in my freshman year of college, and came back in 2015 with a total of 60,000 words (the first 50k in 16 days).
This year, 2016, I got 18,000.
I could blame a lot of things. I could blame my schoolwork, I could blame my editing job, I could blame my library job, and I could most definitely blame doing other things and being on vacation.
But I’m not going to blame anything, because I chose to do those things. I chose to take six classes and actually do the work, I chose to become editor-in-chief at Her Campus Lasell, I chose to get a job, and I chose to go to concerts and on Boston trips. I chose not to write. I didn’t even choose a novel idea. I have at least fifteen different story ideas, and I can’t find one I’m in love with.
I have this one story I’ve been working on since I was fifteen. Five years have passed, and I’ve written at least ten different outlines. I have yet to finish it. I have the story I wrote for NaNo 2015 that I won with, but can’t find a plot for my loveable main characters. Another story I tried to write this year was one I had recently created, but then realized it was going nowhere.
Being a writer is one of the absolute hardest things you can be. I’ve been writing seriously since elementary school, where my first book was titled ‘Elf Girl.’ Everyone knew me as the writer girl, the girl who won the English award in 8th grade and was most definitely going to publish a novel in the next ten years. Do I feel like I’ve let people down? Absolutely. Should I be feeling this way? Absolutely not. I’ve written over 400,000 words in my lifetime, yet none of these words make up a beginning, middle, and end to a story.
I want to be a YA writer that readers rave about. I want to relate to millions of teenagers who can read my novels and understand exactly what the characters are going through. I want to be the one to watch, the one who will have three of her novels turned into box office hits. I want to be successful.
And then I remember. I am a writer, in and out. And I love writing. But there are other things I have to focus on first before writing whatever I want. I have essays to write, articles to think of and edit later, blog posts waiting to be typed, and emails to send out. I never stop writing. I’m afraid my new computer’s keyboard will die on me sooner than it should because I type too hard.
But none of that is my fault for not winning NaNo. It’s not my fault, and it never will be. Sometimes writers are so busy being normal people that they forget how to become a writer again.
I know I should take a fiction-writing hiatus. Let ideas brew inside my head, and wait for them to develop. Write in a journal, write up a blog, but let my mind calm down. As much as I want to continue writing, I need to first decide what I want to write, what I want people to read.
And then maybe, maybe, I will finally finish an actual novel.