So yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the day that I became a novelist. I don’t know if most writers make a note of the day they finish their first book, or if they continue to observe it once they’ve managed more impressive feats (like, you know, getting someone to actually read it) but I certainly think that it’s neat and important to remember there was a time before I had even drafted a book. I can get so caught up worrying about editing, querying, and publishing, it’s easy to forget that there’s this massive milestone I accomplished years ago that actually gave me the title of novelist. I don’t ever want to undervalue that title.
My first novel remains my longest, and the reason I now ALWAYS outline. If I don’t outline, I just let my characters go on way too many only-tangentially-related-to-the-plot adventures. I need outlines to contain myself and give structure to my imagination. It was a NaNoWriMo novel that took me until Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday to finish. Over 125,000 words, all total.
In order to commemorate that accomplishment, I picked out the most fitting celebration this year…I finished my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel at a brand new writing group I’ve resolved to start attending this quarter. Admittedly I could have finished this book several weeks back (I was so close to the end!) but I shelved it in order to write an epic 11,000 word short story for my mental health. (December is a weird month, and sometimes I have to write weird stories in it.) Anyways, it feels good to know I’ve got a full draft done, and I don’t have any open ended stories…at the moment. It’s nice to take a break from drafting new fiction, because as soon as I stop this laborious, tedious, gruelling, creatively-exhausting process, I’m forced to remember just how much I love and miss it when I don’t have it.
My new writing group is interesting, and we went to dinner afterwards at my favorite campus cafe, the CoHo (literally, the Coffee House) against my better judgement, though totally in-line with my celebratory mood, I got a large chai latte and pumped myself full of caffeine at eight o’clock at night and told all the wild stories I have that influence my writing. I tried to get other people to tell stories and talk about their writing, but I suppose I stumbled onto some very introverted writers. My boyfriend says that no one comes to Stanford for creative writing, but surely somewhere out there on this campus there is someone who is passionate and prolific and wants to talk about writing! I’ve met one, true, but I was expecting much more from the most exclusive university in the country.