Writing, New Beginnings, and Jackie Chan

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming urge to write. Now, since I have committed to writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, you probably think I was happy about this.

I was not. And for one, very good reason. I didn’t have any interest in continuing on the story that I had started.

I think I mentioned that I had started writing a Western. I did this because I needed a quick, easy, and simple thing to write. As I pretty much grew up on reading westerns, I figured I would be fine.

I started writing, and things went OK. First off, I discovered that I really like dialogue. My characters were talking very well, amongst themselves. I was a bit concerned, however, that one of them was really trying to be funny. And he was making the others sort of funny, too.

Which isn’t a bad thing. Or surprising, maybe, as I look for funny things myself. But I don’t recall reading any funny westerns.

Then I thought, too bad. I’ll just Jackie Chan a western. You know Jackie. He takes something that is traditionally serious as a heart attack – martial arts movies – and he “bumbles” his way through them, fighting with an umbrella, two cups of flour, and a bottle of olive oil.

I can do that. In fact, the one fight scene that I wrote (and you must have action in a western) involved manure, a shovel, and a good one-liner.

So I continued. My characters, I thought, were OK, too. Strong leading man – think Tom Selleck from his Magnum days. But a really strong leading lady, too – think Charlize Theron as the evil queen from Snow White and the Huntsman. Now I have no problem with a strong leading lady. In fact, I began to think that she might end up saving the “hero” in the end.

All of which is fine, if it’s part of the plot.

Shit. Plot. The one thing I didn’t have. I had written more than 10,000 words, and I had no idea what the story was. There were, I think, some good scenes and witty banter, but nothing that was moving towards some conclusion.

Largely because I didn’t have a conclusion.

So … I woke up this morning, and I had a crystal clear idea of what I was going to write. I sat down at my computer this morning and banged out well over 5000 words by lunchtime. Without breaking a sweat.

My wrists ached like the wrath of Khan, however, and I think I’m going to have to invest in one of these ergonomic keyboard dealies.

I’ve learned a few good lessons from my first attempt:

  • I can write very quickly. This is good, and the discipline of sitting down to write has helped a lot. My word counts are improving steadily.
  • If you start something and don’t know how to finish it, it doesn’t mean that you suck. Or that you wasted your time. It just means that you have learned a different lesson. Like how to write in a hurry. Start something else and figure out how to use your “failure”, whatever that means, somewhere down the road.
  • Don’t give up. Just try a different track.
  • It’s good to know what the end game is.

So, I decided to write about my own life. Yes, I wrote about the cool – nay, awesome! – bike that my neighbor had.  And about Grade One (I was so cute). And the potato bin. It was interesting and fun for me. I laughed out loud a couple of times, and I even had a tear or two as I remembered a particular kindness or friend.

I particularly enjoyed writing my disclaimer page.

And so, because it flows downhill, things were pretty easy today. And productive. We’ll see how it goes.

But, I’m in a bit of a pickle. I should be at (since it’s day 10) about 17,000 words. I’m back to 5,000. That means I need to write about 2250 words every day for the next 20 days. Not impossible, I have discovered, but I have quite a few things coming up in the next couple of weeks that will take me away from home. And from writing.

I’m thinking of this as a challenge, so, I’m pretty psyched to keep at it. I think I can do it.

Thanks for your support.


PS – By the way, there are 746 words in this post. Maybe I shouldn’t have wasted them.


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