I was looking at the new NaNoWriMo website that they are trying to launch and I ran across my old NaNo projects. The first year that I participated was way back in 2011! That’s almost 8 years ago!
And you know what else I saw? The novel that I had tried to write (and failed dismally at only 8.871 words for all of November 2011), was the SAME EXACT ONE that I am finishing up as my current WIP!
This blew my mind because 8 years?!?! It has been 8 years since I first had the idea to write about this world and these characters, and yet, I never really got past that first 8k despite multiple attempts to revise it and rework it over the years. This past November, however, I won NaNo and even submitted the first 80 pages of that same story to my Master’s program as my Creative Writing thesis. So what changed?
Did my story magically get better? Definitely not.
The true difference was time. Not only did the past 8 years of *failure* allow me to rework and marinate on the story in my mind, it also allowed me to improve my own writing skill so that the story in my mind somewhat resembled the story that ended up on the page.
In 8 years, I had written various scenes about these characters, never really finding my groove. And then, when it came time to pick a project for my thesis, I was terrified of choosing this one and stalling again, basically forcing me to spend more money to pay for an extension and postpone my actual degree (and did I mention more money?).
But, I wrote it. And I got feedback on it. And it changed. And grew. And developed. And suddenly, all those scenes I’d tried in the past had a place, even if it wasn’t in the way that I had originally tried to force them.
So, what’s my point? Let your story settle. Let it rest. Especially when it is something that you can’t seem to figure out. Save it somewhere, stow it away, occasionally brush it off and try again, and one day, it just might end up being the thing you wanted it to be.