Those of you who know me personally know that I just finished, along with thousands of writers across everywhere, National Poetry Month. NPM came at a great time for me. I was finishing my MFA, waiting to defend my novel thesis, and classes were winding down. Poetry month helped me to make a daily commitment to my writing. I wrote a poem every day. I also did something else—I posted a (famous, not mine) poem every day on Facebook. There is something about the second activity that I think reinforced the first: having a public way to manifest my celebration of this month helped to, in some way, hold me accountable for the private way I celebrated poetry month (writing poems—most of which no one will ever, ever see).
I like the idea of committing to something for a month. It seems manageable. That is why I decided to dedicate this entire month to my novel—I mean, like, serious dedication. I have then decided that I need a public way to manifest the process, as a way of holding myself accountable to the work I do in private. Granted, this month may turn into years of work, but I plan to commit to it one month at a time. I have made a calendar of reading and writing assignments that will work as prompts to delve back into this writing project. That’s the private stuff, though. I won’t be sharing much of that on here.
Here’s my particular deal: I have a novel draft. I call it the “fun” draft. I wrote it, basically, to make myself laugh while I finished my MFA. And it is funny. Probably only funny to me, but it cracks my shit up every time I read it. This does not mean I don’t care deeply about my characters or the profound life stuff the novel aims to portray. It just means that I wrote that draft to get a draft out and now it’s time to hunker down a bit. I have three manuscripts covered with notes from my three committee members. Time to get serious. I actually have no real idea where to go next.
I also don’t have a job this month, so something as in-depth as working on a novel seems perfect for me at that time. Considering the amount of MFA programs there are in the world, I’m guessing that there are other people in my boat—people who don’t have jobs for the month of May, people who have novel manuscripts from their time in school to revise.
So here’s what I’m doing on this blog for the month of May:I will share my thoughts of encouragement during all of this daunting novel business. I encourage anyone who has a novel draft to revise to check in with this blog once in a while—maybe, just maybe (hopefully!), these thoughts will be helpful to you, too.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates
The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West