2019 Novel-Writing Challenge, Week 9

I finished up Week 9 at 38,587 words.

I did take two days in a row off from writing this week. I could tell you it was because my partner was in town, and there was a resulting mad whirlwind of social activity, but that just feels like an excuse. I’m working on getting back to writing every day…

That said: I can’t believe I’ve made it this far! This is already the longest creative work I’ve ever produced.

Right after I graduated college, I did an urban education fellowship year at Match Charter High School in Boston, where we talked to students a lot about the school’s core values of discipline, courage, and perseverance. I was so impressed as I watched students figure out what those values meant to each of them, personally, and then work hard every day to achieve their goals. They battled their individual demons — self-doubt, language barriers, being undocumented, Asperger’s, learning difficulties, emotional issues, unstable home lives — and, years later, many of them were among the first in their family to go to college.

Having grown up in an upper middle class family in Lexington, Massachusetts, I come from privilege. I can’t pretend to understand how it feels to deal with the challenges that the Match grads I knew have faced. But I believe Match‘s emphasis on discipline, courage, and perseverance has helped me a great deal as well.

I’m not an especially disciplined person. In college, I used to leave big school papers until the last minute. I really don’t have a set bedtime. I’ve never worked out consistently in my life. And, of course, I used to start writing projects and then desert them, complaining about not being inspired.

Today, looking at my word count, it’s nice to see the effects of discipline and perseverance paying off. As for courage? I don’t know. I still haven’t shown this to anyone, in large part because I feel like it’s still a pile of crap.

And, honestly, it probably is. There are tons of holes in the plot, the world, and the characters. Tons of descriptive details are missing. I’ve completely skimmed over some scenes. Reading it back over one evening, I felt grouchy, taking note of all the problems with the story.

But I did find myself surprised and gratified by how the characters have been there for each other throughout the story so far. They’re all so different and imperfect, they all have their issues and their conflicts, but they’re becoming a family. I feel like I’ve made a bunch of new friends. I’ve never felt that way about my characters, probably because I’ve shelved all my other stories too early, prior to getting to know the figures within.

And I’m already formulating my plan for the editing process, which will focus on making my world more plausible, filling in missing scenes and details, and more.

Stay tuned!

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