OK, so it's December but I'm still brain-deep in thinking about the NaNoWriMo which has just passed. Don't worry, I already have some thoughts about blog posts that are less focused on my NaNoWriMo experience soon -- honest!
I've thought of myself, admittedly off and on, as a writer for most of my life. But never as a novelist. I've written dozens and dozens of short stories. I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo years back but never committed to it -- heck, I never even really did anything more other than learn it existed.
Thinking honestly, I'm not sure that I'm going to pour tons of energies into novels in the near future besides the one I've already completed a first draft of. I think that, for me, one of the pieces of enjoyment I get out of writing is building up something new quickly and concisely in the form of a short story. Who knows, maybe I'll feel differently once I've gotten into the second and third drafts of "Adrift" next year. There was a certain exhilaration to charging headlong through 57,000+ words of new prose in November, I'll admit. I got into the world of those characters in a way that let me write very, very quickly at times and there were times when the story felt like it was moving along in interesting, unexpected new ways that gave a real high.
Still, the big thing I learned here -- the one overarching lesson for me from NaNoWriMo is that I can
write a novel. If I have some inspiration strike me someday for what seems like a great novel, I will never ever have the excuse again of "Oh, I don't know how to write novels. I just know short stories and everyone knows they're two different forms." Yes, they are two different forms. But I've worked in both now and know that tackling a novel isn't something which I have to shy away from if I want to do it in the future.
That's an incredibly powerful thing, when I think about it and if I somehow end up with nothing else from this NaNoWriMo besides a trunked novel after going through revisions and critique and more revisions, I believe it will have made the experience completely worthwhile.