This month was a relatively successful one, for my novel. I doubled my word count, and sent it out to some (not all) of my test readers. Feedback was negative, which is a good thing because I can improve!
Today, I'd like to talk about the mixed messages I get as a writer.
At Thanksgiving, one of the questions my mother asks me is "Are you going to continue with your PhD?"
I can't believe I'm hearing this! I try writing a novel, and suddenly people ask if I'm continuing with my PhD program? Nobody ever asked that in relation to any of the other hobbies I pick up. When I started blogging, no one ever asked if I would continue with university. When I picked up guitar, no one ever asked me if I was planning to switch to being a rock star. When I picked up origami (and even made a small profit from it), no one ever asked if this meant I was giving up physics.
Let's put this in perspective. I wrote about 7k words of my novel, and there were about 10k words in the novel I scrapped. This is less than 20k words over the course of 8 months. How many words did I write for my blog in the same amount of time? I estimate 50k words. But somehow, writing a book signals a greater time commitment.
Another thing that happened this month was National Novel Writing Month. Every November, hundreds of thousands of people attempt to write a complete novel with at least 50k words. This is quite an undertaking, and most people don't succeed. I've heard that the resulting novels are usually terrible and require a lot of editing.
But still, this isn't something people quit their jobs for, not for just one month. Writing fiction can be a career for some people, but for most people it isn't. More often, it's just a weighty hobby. For me, it's not even that, it's a light hobby. There was no way I'd write 50k words in a month. I wrote about ten times less than that, mostly while riding the bus to and from work.
Here's another kind of writing that people do: fanfiction. Personally, I can't stand fanfiction. The quality is just too low. The only fanfic I ever really read was HPMOR, and even there I feel like I'm struggling with Yudkowski's awful prose and peculiar plot obsessions.
But I don't begrudge people writing for the pure love of writing and stories. On the contrary, I admire it. And who is to say my writing is any better? Test reader feedback isn't positive enough to justify such a view.
And that's fine with me. I would love to be a great author and get published, but that's not the real goal here. If the small amount of time I commit isn't enough to get to the finish line, it's not a big loss. The goal is to enjoy myself, and I am already accomplishing that.