I wrote my first book when I was in third grade – a biography about Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t for school or anything; I was just really into Lincoln and wanted to add my two cents to the historical record. I typed it up on my manual typewriter – an ugly green hulk of a thing that I hated at the time but wish I still had – and took it to school to show my teacher. I was so proud. She told me it was a bit short. A future Doris Kearns Goodwin, I was not.
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I learned to read. I’ve always had grand dreams of becoming a great novelist or at least a half-way decent mass paperback author. But aside from a short stint writing for my college newspaper – we parted ways due to literary differences – most of my writing was private. Password protected and not to be revealed to actual readers.
There was the next Great American Novel that turned out not to be that great. One night, I decided I hated it so much, I deleted all 700 pages. 700 pages! What was I thinking?!
There’s the historical fiction book that I’ve started and stopped a hundred times but continue to research just in case I ever do decide to finish it one day. Okay, it’s really just my excuse to collect family trees of European royalty.
There’s the mystery story that I started a few months ago that I can’t seem to figure out how to solve.
Then there was my foray into romance – writing, not an actual romance, of course. As someone once said to me – you, writing romance? What do you know about romance? Point taken. I don’t know anything about romance. And I certainly don’t know about those parts that really make romance books sell.
Of course, there was my autobiography – hey, former superstar QVC host Kathy Levine wrote an autobiography! Why can't I?!
For every story that I’ve written though, there are ten more unwritten. Sometimes, I think I might be schizophrenic with all the characters chattering away in my head. At least I’m never alone with my thoughts!
Recently, my friend Nebraska Outback – a fellow Deadliest Catch fan, fellow blogger, and proud Nebraskan – encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo. A quick Google search indicated that NaNoWriMo wasn’t some sort of babbling nonsense but actually a pretty cool event – National Novel Writing Month, an annual event during November when writers…write. The goal – write a novel in a month. 50,000 words in 30 days. Possible? Entirely. Especially if you have a good story to tell.
All my stories? They weren’t good. It’s easy to delete a 700 page manuscript when you know it’s crap. For the most part, what I’ve written has been crap. I was trying to write stories about things that I
didn’t don’t know about and because of that my stories were unbelievable - and not in the good way. Worse than that, I didn’t believe in my stories…or in my ability to write.
But this year, I’ve learned that when you write from the truest part of yourself, your words, your stories…they’re not only believable, they’re good. And every once in the while, even funny.
There’s a lot that I don’t know about. But there’s a lot I do know about. Like good friends, strong families, loneliness, overcoming fears, good times, laughter…The makings of a good story. Maybe even a great novel.