That's right. NaNoWriMo starts on Friday, and this year I am ready to get back into writing down the worst 50,000 words that pop into my head. Last year, I tried and got about a thousand words, but the truth is that I didn't really have any ideas - or any free time.
I'm ok with this. I understand that a newborn is going to require all of my free time, and I don't mind at all that for one year, the world was spared of my subpar prose because I was taking care of a teeny-tiny newborn Silas. (And boy, was he making the cutest faces to make up for it!) And considering I'm still hoping to have some more kids, it's safe to say there are other awful novels that I won't be writing in some of these coming years.
Why do I do NaNo?
Well, for one thing, the friend that introduced it to me is pretty awesome, and she had done it and won for several years. With my competitive spirit, there was no way I could not do it. And it was fun writing down all of my thoughts. Writing grounds me and allows me to imagine other people and their lives.
I'm not good at it; far too many of my protagonists are white, female, heterosexual women who share most of my values. So my goal this year is to deal with diversity. Diversity comes in a lot of forms. For me, first off, I write mostly about women because there are scads of male protagonists. That was the closest to diversity I got. But within that, I rarely HAD strong male characters. That's stupid. I'm looking for balance, for realism.
That's why this year, I'm writing from three perspectives I don't have a lot of experience with. One of my two main characters is going to be a guy, a 14 year old high school freshman who is dealing with the fact that his dad has cancer and might not be there to see him graduate. I can't think of a single male main character I have dealt with, fanfiction not counting since those weren't my characters.
The other main character will be a girl, a 14 year old high school freshman who is dealing with her sexuality. She's pretty sure she's into girls, but doesn't quite know how to react to this. I've never written about this before. Oddly enough, my previous fanfiction writing has included gay men, but never a lesbian. That's silly; obviously both exist. Finally, I intend for this girl to be African American. I'm terrified to try. What right do I have, you know? For all of these perspectives, I'm afraid I will portray characters in a racist light, overly stereotypically, and worst of all, as defined only by what makes them unique compared to me.
So, chances are that in about a month, I will have written 50,000 words about subjects I know very little about. My hope is to use this experience to learn more. I don't think I'll ever write a novel that people will want to read. I'll never be an author. My writing might always be mainly for myself, but as long as I'm trying to be better at it, I'll be happy.