I’m completed the first week of novel writing, with absolutely amazing results. I’ve written more than 18,000 words and I’m more than a third of the way to my goal, and over 7,000 words ahead of schedule. I’ve had an enormous out-pouring of support and it feels great.
This has been a very full week, and not just because I’m writing a novel. On Monday night on a high after finishing a second round of writing, I called my old high school yo-yo friend Adam. Our wives are both busy on Monday nights, so we’ve made a habit of calling each other every few weeks and talking about whatever. After losing touch in college it’s been awesome to reconnect on Mondays.
On Friday I reconnected with another high school friend who I haven’t talked to since May. Brick spent the summer in Alaska, and we finally connected so I could hear all about it. Turns out a girl on the trip has become more than a friend (though she’s still “just a friend”), prompting the expression that pigs are flying. Brick’s currently planning to get more schooling and return to the Yukon mission field.
Friday night my wife and I had a date, heading out to take in The Incredibles.
Saturday morning after finishing my daily word count and getting a comment on this blog from Tim, I gave him a call. He lived in my house for four months, then got married and moved away to Montana. Recently I’ve been learning the importance of staying connected with friends, and the effort it takes, so it felt good to talk to Tim and catch up on the past few weeks, trade stories about youth group and laptops and U2 and Buffy.
Saturday afternoon I raked the leaves in our yard, which is more of a nuissance than anything since we only have one tree (and it still has most of its leaves). I would have dumped the three bags at the local compost site, but there was a line. Now the leaves are spread across the floor of my garage. After working to tweak the youth group Advent play (yet another thing I’ve been doing, writing a new John the Baptist script for our youth group to perform during Advent — practice begins next Sunday so I had to finish the script), I realized my wedding ring was missing. Thus prompting a half-hour search with flashlights. We gave up on the yard and set to going through all three bags of leaves. But no luck there. I still have to bag those leaves up again. I gave the front yard one more sweep, and found the ring after kicking some leaves aside.
No harm, no foul, though as I look at the ring on my finger now, the idea of not having it makes me feel naked and incomplete.
After the ring hunt, we headed to church at 11:00 p.m. to be chaperones for the youth group sleepover. We showed up late (on purpose) to miss the big game, which we don’t care much for. A late night and an early morning didn’t feel so great, but with circumstances and meetings, we ended up spending more than 12 hours at church and didn’t get back home until 3:00, where I promptly fell asleep watching the race.
I finished up my daily word count just before 9.
So it’s been a busy week, but it’s been so good. People keep asking about the novel, and I just gush as I tell them how it’s going. As shy and quiet as I am, I probably like to hear myself talk, and it’s fun to talk about something as exciting as this. I’m still expecting week two to be harder, and I almost hope it is so I don’t think this whole novel thing is a cakewalk.
I’ve been taking in a lot of music, setting up a new “writing music” playlist, which includes lots of Radiohead, Polyphonic Spree, some Moby, and the Braveheart soundtrack. This week I’ve also been tracking the updates on the new U2 album, eagerly awaiting its release in two more weeks.
I’ve learned so much about writing (if you’re reading along with my novel as I’m writing, the following will contain spoilers). Fiction hasn’t been something I’ve done a lot of, especially lately, so it’s a lot of fun to dive into something like this with minimal planning. I’ve heard people like Anne Lamott and Stephen King say that characters will take over your story and do things you don’t expect them to do, and I’ve found that it’s true. I didn’t think Allison would take over and introduce herself at the beginning of Chapter 4. I had envisioned a long, awkwardly belabored meeting with plenty of planning and forethought. But she went and scrapped that plan, and in the process firmly told me that she wasn’t the character I had in mind.
Later in chapter 4 things took a dark and somber turn I hadn’t expected either. I thought something like that might happen, but I had envisioned it as more of a climax, not something that would happen so soon.
I’m also realizing that I’m essentially writing a love story. I sat down knowing I’d write about Sedgewick and Allison, knowing their basic story, Sedgewick’s complicated past and their current situations. I figured they’d probably get together, but I never admitted to myself that it was basically a love story. That feels like what’s happening, though I’m not positive that’s the direction it will ultimately go.
It’s kind of fun to write such a character driven story. You would think plot is so minimal in a story like this, and is, in the sense that there’s no mystery or plot twist, or sneaky thing like that going on, but there is a plot in that things still happen to the characters and drastically alter their world.
Some nights I’ll sit in bed thinking about what I’ll write the next morning, and I envision a few possible scenarios. I try to think ahead and see what will happen to my characters, but I don’t know. It’s all up in the air. A few days ago I thought of the outcome I wrote tonight, but it was just one possibility, and I actually didn’t think it was the one I would go with. I wanted to go with Sedgewick walking away from the restaurant, forcing Allison to go home and walk through her pain alone. But she cried out to me. She wasn’t ready to do that, and Sedgewick wasn’t ready to force her through that (and I’m not sure if he would ever force someone through something like that). So we have tonight’s outcome, where Allison spends the night at Sedgewick’s place. It sounds like such a baudy thing, but in reality it’s so incredibly innocent. The characters don’t even kiss goodnight, or even hug, for goodness sake, something I contemplated doing. But they’re not ready for that (they only met that morning, which makes it all the more ridiculous that they’d be spending the night).
I’m sitting here thinking how cool this is. I’m practically writing a serial novel, since everyone can read what I’m writing as I write it. I didn’t think I’d like that so much, but I really do. Not that I expect anyone to read it (as one person said, “it’s like reading a novel!”), but people keep telling me they’ve been reading it. And even if they only read a few hundred words just to see if I’m really doing it, they’ve read something I wrote. There’s some satisfaction in that. It’s something tangible you can put your brain around. I like giving that to people as proof that I’m really doing this. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in this journey, knowing that a few other people are reading along. It humbles me. It excites me. It blows me away.
I guess that’s a rambling taste of where I’m at after one week. This hasn’t turned my life upside down. I’m not over-caffienated (though I do have more than I probably need) and neglecting half my responsibilties. But it is doing wonderous things, forcing me into the daily habit of creation. And I love it. I absolutely love it.