Or why my novel isn’t finished.
Did anyone see the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory?
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
The guys decided that since the girls entered their lives they’ve been pretty distracted from their usual creative endeavors. They realized that next year is the FUTURE, according to Back to the Future Part II. Why hasn’t the hoverboard been invented already? Leonard recalled he had worked up some ideas, designs or whatever for such a project several years previously and wondered what happened to it. Sheldon observed that Penny moved in two days after Leonard’s brainstorm … and the rest is history.
So what do they do? They determine a women-free weekend is in order. They will put their heads together and come up with something cool and world-changing. The women head to Vegas and the guys are left to get brainy.
Unsurprisingly, it appears the women were not entirely responsible for their distraction. As the episode proceeds Sheldon, Raj and Howard repeatedly wander off course. I won’t go into all the different ways they’re distracted – I don’t want to completely ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it and ignored the Spoiler Alert. But by the end of the show they’re all back in the apartment, happily watching Ghostbusters.
So what does that have to do with NaNoWriMo? Not a damn thing. But hold on, I’ll tie this together eventually.
If you’re at all familiar with Janet Evanovich’s writing then you probably know about Stephanie Plum. If you don’t, what is wrong with you? Go find a copy of One For the Money and read it! Okay, maybe chick lit isn’t for you; I get that. I can only take so much of it myself, but Stephanie Plum was my lethal distraction. Where “lethal” is not literal. I might as well have been watching Ghostbusters with the guys.
Some years ago I started writing a novel called Maxwell’s Silver Bullet. The female protagonist was Charlie Maxwell, a feisty, wise ass 40-something. Sound familiar? (I even had a cutesy title in mind for the sequel: Charlie’s Angles! Yes, seriously.) Back when the novel was practically flying onto the screen, I had an email pal who worked for the City. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure we ever met in person – weird (shrugs). But we connected through work and continued our e-friendship for years, sharing jokes and the like. I happened to mention one day that I was writing a novel and she begged to read it. Okay, begged might be a bit of an exaggeration. She was a writer wannabe too, part of a writers’ group and interested in what I was doing. So I emailed it to her.
Now despite what you may be thinking, she didn’t steal it. She gave it a very thoughtful critique and demanded to know where the rest was. Not only that, she compared
Charlie Charlie’s mom to Stephanie Plum’s grandmother! I asked, “Who?”
“You can’t be serious,” she replied. “You don’t know about Stephanie Plum?”
“Nope, can’t say I do.”
“You must read her. I’ll loan you my copies.”
Ah, yeah. Within the week a box arrived for me with the first six Stephanie Plum paperbacks inside!
It was my doom. I think I probably finished all of them within two weeks. Back then I was commuting by ferry so I had LOTS of time to read, and with no laptop I couldn’t write anyway, right?
Once I finished Hot Six I got the next one from the library. And the next. And the next. I didn’t stop writing immediately, but between immersing myself in Stephanie’s world and running into a wall plot-wise I finally came to a standstill creatively.
It’s been a lot of years since then, at least ten. There were times I tried to pick up the novel and continue but it never seemed to work out. At some point in the intervening years the electronic copy was lost when our computer crashed. Poor Charlie. Then one year I tried NaNoWriMo (see? I told you I’d tie this together). That started out okay but again, I hit a wall and didn’t recover. I’ve been tempted occasionally to try again but so far I’ve resisted the bug … until now. Once again I am contemplating NaNoWriMo. And wondering whether Charlie deserves a resurrection and a new plot. I even went so far as to change my work password (see this post for an explanation).
I’m terrified. And just a little excited.