When I started playing around with noveling last year, it was mostly as a way to find a writing outlet that wouldn’t leave me dry-heaving (unlike, say, my dissertation).  It sounded like fun and I had a few ideas, so one night, I sat down and scribbled out a scene, and it was fun.  The next night, I scribbled out another.  And then I read a book or two and came back and read what I’d written.  My thought:  “my writing is crap.”  So I shelved the idea for a while.

And then NaNo happened.  What I mean by this is that someone on a forum I frequent started a thread about NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge that involves writing 50,000 words during the month of November.  50,000 words, as they point out on the NaNo site, is roughly the length of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a short novel (but an awesome one when well done).  November is thought to be an ideal time for this, being that November being a dismal month and thus conducive to being stuck indoors with a cup of caffeine and a laptop.  My thought: “what the hell.”  So I played around more with the idea I had working on in my head from months earlier, and somehow managed to pull 50,000 words out of my brain during the challenge.  Some of them weren’t awful (as in I think the word “awful” was only used once or twice, meaning then that almost all of the words weren’t awful)(as in it’s late and I’m kinda loopy so bear with me and my terrible, terrible jokes).  And then I scribbled through most of the rest of the novel and had it pretty much almost but not quite completed by March or so.  Maybe April – I forget the exact timeline because life was being loopy at that point. 

When I got to a point where I wasn’t quite sure how to end it, I started reading through it in hopes of figuring out a perfect ending scene.  And it occured to me.  IT SUCKED.  Like, REALLY SUCKED.  Some of the supporting characters were fun but the MC was flat for most of the novel and the central conflict utterly wasn’t a conflict at all (hence my inability to come up with a conclusion – there wasn’t enough to conclude, plot-wise).  Solution:  shelve the thing and get a moar bettar idea.  So I did, chalking the first mess up to “good learning experience,” which it was.  I’m working now on idea two, which is fun and much more planned out and becoming much more well-researched.  And who knows – it may end up being good (it will most likely be better than the first one, anyway).  Of course, it may end up being unworkable at the end as well, but if that happens I’ll move on when I’ve done all I can and try a different idea.  At least this time I have a plot outline, so I know what’s going to happen and I know I won’t end up conclusion-less.

But here’s the thing that happens with fiction writing that never happened in the throes of academia:  characters now spend time in my head arguing with each other.  It feels as though the inside of my head, which used to be mine, is now populated with people who want space on a page somewhere.  And they talk to each other.  If I’m lucky, like I’ve been for a few nights recently, the characters who are talking to each other are the characters I *want* to have talking to each other, and writing feels more like transcription than it does work (or even creation).  If I’m unlucky, no one’s talking to me at all and everything I write that day feels forced (like the two days during which my MC (main character) moped and stared at her shoes and was emphatically not in the mood for adventure).  Those are the days where I know the writing is likely to end up as edit scraps later.

And then there are – albeit rarely – days like today, when a totally new and previously unknown character bangs on my consciousness while I’m otherwise occupied and starts telling me a story about where she came from and what her world is like and what her problems are and it fits absolutely nowhere with anything I’m working on.  I can’t qualify this as lucky, because this character and her story are a complete and total distraction from my current WIP (still Young Adult, but in a totally different world than the one I’ve been working in), but I can’t say I feel it’s unlucky, either, because I think her story is interesting and could be a lot of fun to write down.  I’ve written down roughly 500 words to give myself a reminder for when I can work with it, given it a folder and put it away (I hope – I’m hoping that because I’ve written it down she’ll leave me alone for a while).

A year ago, in the pre-NaNo days, this is not what I expected to have happen.  I didn’t expect strangers to sit in my head and talk to each other, hoping to get my attention.  But it’s fun.  It’s really fun.  And maybe, if I work my ass off, someday someone will publish something, and you all can enter the world in my head.