I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember–I think as long as I could write at all. And for decades, if you’d asked me my dream job, I’d have said, “Writer,” in the same longing voice someone might yearn to be a rock god or movie star.
But for some reason I was convinced I couldn’t write a novel. I don’t know how or when or why I started telling myself that lie, but I believed it.
Until I fell down the rabbit-hole. Which particular rabbit-hole was that? Fanfiction, my dear. Specifically, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic. The slashy kind starring Spike and most of the guys (except Andrew. Please God, not Andrew.). First I read it. A lot of it. And then in November 2008, just when the end of the semester nonsense was beginning to drag me down, I was attacked by a giant plot bunny. I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering the size of the rabbit-hole I’d fallen into.
I wrote my very first fanfic, and it was 118,000 words long.
Okay, I said to myself. So maybe I can write something novel-length. And people even liked it. But I couldn’t possibly write an original novel, right?
I ended up writing a lot more Spike fanfic–as in 126 stories in all. I’m quite proud of some of them, and if you have a yen for the stuff, you can find me on AO3 as whichclothes (warning: I was often not very nice to poor Spike).
A funny thing happened, though. When I was writing that first fanfic in November 2008, I read other people talking about this thing called NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. I was intrigued. But surely I could never write an original novel at all, let alone in 30 days.
Well, I guess I thought on that for some time. Because in November 2009, I tried my first NaNo. The result? 66,000 words written in less than a month, and my very first novel: Stasis (which will be reissued in a second edition by Dreamspinner Publications in May 2016; I just finished the first round of edits!).
The subsequent Novembers brought Flux and Equipoise, the rest of the trilogy. I had to admit it: I can write a novel. I wrote Good Bones for my 4th NaNo. And I didn’t stop writing after that. I abandoned my poor beleaguered Spike and wrote original fiction in earnest. My 13th novel, Rattlesnake, came out this summer. Thirteen!
I’m not doing NaNo anymore. It doesn’t fit my writing schedule very well–I’m currently about 15K into a novel. And I don’t need it anymore to prove a point to myself or to give me incentive to write.
But God, I really appreciate what NaNo did for me. How it taught me to dump a stupid old lie.
And you know what? This year, both my daughters are NaNoing.