Sunday, November 06, 2011

Pumped Up for NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began November 1, and we novelists are challenged to write 50,000 in just 30 days.  It is day six, and I have amazed myself by getting halfway through already.

The last time I took this challenge (and started two weeks late because I had never heard of NaNoWriMo) was in 2006, from which I produced my upcoming book Approaching Felonias Park, a novel that takes a close look at predatory lending, the poor and homeless and the abused.  The book has a series of mystical elements and a clear message.  I need to sell 500 copies in order to have it stay in print, so I am hoping to get help from lots of my friends and family members.  Proceeds will help support local homeless shelters and food pantries.

However, this new, gritty book-in-progress (title withheld for now), though I am writing very fluidly and with higher quality than the first which had to be edited extensively, is proving to be much more difficult.  The protagonist, a heroin addict who is eventually saved by a jail chaplain, is sucking a lot of emotion out of me.  Not only is this gal's life hell, the chaplain asks her the bigger questions of life, the questions we should all ask ourselves no matter how difficult it is.  I am finding that I have to explore my own answers as I write this book.  Plus, having never taken drugs, I am also having to do some research.  The novel is painfully realistic, and I don't want to compromise that.

I'm wondering if my books will be hard sells because of the realism. I tend not to write about well adjusted, lucky people.  My characters are fighters and dirty.  They live in the streets, on the edge and often in spiritual limbo.  Their challenges are those too many will identify with.  But those many who identify might not want to buy the book.  These are difficult books to read, in spite of the light humor and victorious endings.

I write about the poor because I've been in tough situations. I write about abuse because I know about that, too. I write about messed up people who have landed themselves in places no one would really choose to be because I've known and loved people like that.  There is a lot of sickness in this world--bodily, mentally and spiritually.  I struggle with that every day, particularly because I long to be a healer.  But there's only so much anyone can do.  I learned the painful way that I'm not Jesus and that I can't do miracles. I can only work and pray hard for them.

Yesterday, my brain was screaming in pain. I couldn't control what was going on in my head and worked exceptionally hard to get the thoughts organized through writing, which is what I do when things get confusing in my gray matter.  It was a tough day, but it's amazing what 24 hours of conscious care will do for the mind. 

I am more myself this morning. 

I sure missed me while I was gone. 
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