My first novel (again)

I have wanted to write since I was eight years old. In fact, that was the time I was first published. The school district put out a district-wide reader that year and my teacher selected a short story I wrote. I still remember the feeling when Mrs. Bell (I am not sure if I ever knew her first name) told me she had selected the story. It was then I decided I wanted to be a writer. I still have that reader and the story makes me laugh and cringe.

Unfortunately, wanting and doing are two different things. When I was 14 a friend and I tried a collaborative novel. We worked on it every weekend and sometimes during the week. I lived out in the country and he lived in town so we took whatever time we could between playing football and video game marathons. I still remember the concept. It was a fantasy adventure complete with dragons, elves and magic. I remember the writing being pretty good (of course memory and reality are sometimes very different). We wrote nearly 200 pages and then we seemed to lose direction and before we could get back on track my computer melted (1990 computer technology wasn’t very reliable). Losing that much work was demoralizing and we didn’t go back to it.

Since then I have started six or seven books. It seems between 100 and 200 pages is the magic number. At that mark I go from loving what I have been writing to thinking it is complete crap and the result is abandoning the project. When I was younger I wanted to publish a real book by the time I was 30 – 30 has come and gone. I have worked as a writer since I was 20, but not fiction.

If I could afford it, I would stay at home and write fulltime. That is one of the litany of excuses holding me back for more than a decade. However, I think I am ready to dive back in now. I have registered in the 3-Day Novel contest for the third time and I am going to use this year’s contest as a catalyst to reach my goal of publishing a book. My three-day project will be the prologue to my full length novel.

I am thinking of using my blog as a writing journal to record my progress and help keep me motivated. I am not sure if I will publish excerpts for critique, but I will definitely share my progress. The trick will be to balance my job and my writing along with the rest of my life.

My plan is to write in the mornings. The last time I attempted this I woke up early each day and wrote for an hour or two before work. The schedule alleviated the problem of fighting the mental exhaustion I often feel when trying to write after a day of work. I am not going to set a time limit for completion because I don’t want to feel defeated if I miss my deadline.

My aim is between 120,000 – 150,000 words. That works out to between 400 and 500 pages.  I am going to strive to write at least 1,000 words each day. So realistically, in five or six months my first draft will be complete.

The 3-Day Novel contest starts this Friday. I am going to work on a brief outline this week. I usually don’t write an outline in the traditional sense. This will be more of a focus sheet which will outline my character personalities, the technology I plan to use and where everything is going to take place.

I have not decided if I will post the 3-Day novel here. I will decide based on what I think of the finished project.

Wish me luck. I welcome any advice.

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