Day One

2,008 of 50,000 words 

 The first day is usually the worst day for me.

I might be saying that because this is the first day, and I spent a long time deciding what to write. Ask me again at day fifteen, and I might say that the middle is the worst day because I’m getting stuck.

But for today, starting has been difficult.

I spend a lot of the first day staring at a blank page, shifting through the internet, fighting with myself. To start, I need a character I want to spend time with – any little clue is good enough; a scene, a gripe, a name. I sit and stare at the page and listen hard for the next character ready to be written.

It’s a little like getting a cat in a cat carrier. They run around and spread out their legs to hang on to the side, and hiss and growl and bite, and just when you finally get them in the box they disappear in some quantum physics-like maneuver and are running under the bed, and you’re wondering if you should call the vet and reschedule.

But eventually they get in the carrier and you slam the door down and they howl and protest and you wonder if you’ve made a mistake because of all the noise they’re making.

That’s how the first day usually goes for me.

I know that once I’m past these first few thousand words, I’m stuck with the character. I’ll be living with this person for at least a book and I need to like them, even if we don’t see from the same angle on everything. I have to sit and stare at the screen and interview them, see if they have what it takes to survive a story I’m writing. I sit and figure out where they don’t want to be – I ask what would upset their way of life, usually something small that will get bigger with time.

I start there – right when things start to go wrong.

Then, usually at the eleventh hour of the first day, I stop staring and get to typing.

It’s usually not great prose (otherwise known as a shitty first draft). I’ve learned over the years of NaNoWriMo to not be bothered. Words are words.

And a beginning is a beginning.

Hold on to something – this is really happening. 12 novels, still 12 to go.

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