Now that I've drafted a novel, everyone's first question is, "Can I read it?" And everyone gets the same answer: an emphatic, "No." National Novel Writing Month isn't actually about writing a novel. (gasp) It's actually about writing the first draft of a novel. Mine is so messy that I'm afraid to go back and reread it. I made all the mistakes in the book (ha!) from cliches, to plot twists that lead to nowhere, to switching points of view, to clunky dialogue, to one random tangent that involved a troll (with rather nice eyes).
It's kind of like whittling a ukelele out of bark. NaNoWriMo helped me create the huge stump from which my instrument will be carved. It's pretty amazing because I conjured this huge stump out of thin air! Hey everyone, look at my stump! But it doesn't look anything like a ukelele.
So now comes the harder part: the editing. It's really scary because I'm wracked with self-doubt. Should I spend a year of my life editing something that's not good to begin with? I wish there was some magic fairy godmother that I could tell my story to, and she could tell me whether or not it is worth pursuing. What if I put in all this work for nothing?
And then the voice inside my head says, "Was there ever any writing that you've done that you felt like was 'for nothing'?" The answer is no. Every abandoned manuscript, every torn-up page of journal, has made me a better, more persistent writer. So there's nothing else to do but keep at it. Even if my lopsided ukelele ends up just living in a drawer somewhere.
But I dream of being published. Of sitting in Barnes and Noble while people bring me free vanilla lattes and I sign books. Of creating characters that people fall in love with (that I fall in love with). Of a novel that keeps people thinking for years after they've put it down. Of a story they can relate to, with noble, courageous characters they want to pattern themselves after. I'd love to be able to make a living doing what I love (whether or not it includes free vanilla lattes).
It may happen, and it may not. But the only way the dream stays alive is if I take the next step.