Writing a non-masterpiece

Many of you probably know, I’ve been writing a book. It started last November as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is an annual contest where people agree to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s meant to be a fun exercise—people can take it seriously or just use it to create anything, really.

I took it seriously enough and was able to hit 50,000 words in the allotted time, but the book wasn’t done. I set out to keep writing. Time is as it is, however, and I neglected the novel for a couple of months. It sat and languished on my desktop while I moved on to other life projects. I was nearing the end of my time in the military, after all, and I needed to focus on completing the last few work-related projects before I continued. Ok that, and I started playing my video games again. Darn those pixels are so enticing!

So now that I am actually nearly complete with my time in the military, I am looking forward to spending the next month finishing up the manuscript. I have nigh but a college class and some random out-processing appointments to compete with my intentions. While the out-processing process may sap more of my strength than intended (more on the latest paperwork debacle later), I have made some boasts about how the book will be finished in 30 days. That, and no more video games. Not good for the soul.

The book is a first novel, so it’s no masterpiece. That’s what’s sort of liberating about the whole thing. Many people seem to get caught up in trying to make their first work some seismic event. It reminds me of what I went through in journalism school and, now that I’m an instructor at said school, what my students go through with their assignments. No matter how many times I try to tell them the exercises they undertake while at the training school won’t be seen by anyone except God, them and I, many of them still slave, stress and freak out to make it as perfect as possible. Many do a passable job, but, as novice journalists, the stories are at best, passable and at worst, trite.

I fully expect this first novel to be one of those options. Hopefully, realizing that a first novel will hardly cure cancer, I want it to be a badge I can sew on my life sash and move on—perhaps to another novel, or to another chapter in life altogether.

Writing a book is one of those things, you know? It’s in movies, it’s in the introspective conversations of men and women at retirement parties—writing a book is one of those things, like a college degree, that can prove to someone, maybe one’s self, that we have the discipline to stick with something long enough to create something cool. It’s like having kids—not the sex part, that’s easy, but the 0-18 year mark of a person’s life. Except it’s not THAT much of a commitment and, in the end, if I screw up a novel, it has eternal, but not as severe consequences as would a life ill-raised.

So here we go, wish me luck, or a broken pen—whatever writers wish on each other. I shall now push out again from shore after a few-months-long picnic of sorts, and continue down the river.

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About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

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