Camp NaNo started last week and within the first two days I learned two very important things:
- I cannot draft while I'm revising
- Without passion, my writing sucks
The first point I should have known. I tried drafting while revising last summer for the July 2013 Camp NaNo and shelved a really cool story 30K in so I could focus on revisions. Why I thought I could do things differently this time, I have no idea. As such, the first week of Camp was kind of a wash for me, but I'm starting week two strong by focusing on revisions. I'd like to finish one of my two POVs by the end of the month, but so long as I make steady progress, I'll be happy.
Now that that's out of the way, today I'd really like to talk about passion, and why it's so important in writing.
Last week I wrote the first scene of the new novel I'd planned. I wrote about 1700 words, but something felt wrong. The idea itself seemed like it'd work for me. Even though it was outside my normal comfort zone genre-wise, it still had elements I loved and dealt with issues important to me. But as I wrote that first scene, I realized I was missing the vital piece of novel success: passion for the story.
I wasn't burning to write this story. The characters didn't interrupt my day or keep me up at night. I didn't find myself lost in daydreams about scenes I was excited to write. This wasn't a story I needed to tell.
While this may not be true for everyone, and it may not be true for me a year from now, right now, writing for me is all about passion. Yes, there are days I'm not excited to write but I do it anyway. That's what writers do. We write. But at the core of why I write is a strong passion for the stories I want to tell. In trying to write this contemporary novel, I forgot one of the basic tenets of writing:
Write the story you want to read.
When I actually took the time to really think about the story I'd convinced myself would be fun to write, I realized it wasn't a story that I'd ever pick off a shelf at the bookstore and purchase. And if that's the case, how could I possibly write it and have it be any good? How could I commit months and months of time and creative energy to it? In the end, I decided I simply couldn't.
Sure, if I'd signed a contract to write this book, I could have probably figured out ways to change and add to this story to turn it into something I'd want to read, but since I'm still unpublished and unagented and all the rest, I'm going to enjoy the freedom to write only those books I have a passion to write, those books that won't leave me alone until I finish them.
So what am I doing for Camp NaNo then? I'm going to keep revising A STOLEN THRONE (though I'm not sure how I'll "count" it on my word tracker). I finished off another chapter today, and I had a great time doing it. I knew right away when I put pen to paper that this was the story that held my passion. AST is the novel I want to share with the world, and I'm going to work on it until it shines.
Best of luck to everyone writing, revising, drafting, etc. this Camp NaNo. May your month be wordy.