Keep these concepts in mind: You’ve failed many times, although you don’t remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim. . . . R. H. Macy failed 7 times before his store in New York caught on. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times. Don’t worry about failure. My suggestion to each of you: Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.
~ Sherman Finesilver

My faithful dog Karma will be by my side every step of the way.

I just spent a very pleasant hour or so going over my note cards and the few pages I managed to complete of the first draft of the Christmas novel I started last November. Last Wednesday, I declared July 23rd-25th PaNoWriWe, or Pam’s Novel Writing Weekend, and the closer it gets, the more excited I become.

I am feeling much better by now, fully recovered from the strep I was diagnosed with upon my return from Dallas, although I did have a bit of a setback Sunday night when I was waylaid by some intestinal virus that is apparently going around where I live. About an hour and a half after going to bed I woke up with some some of the worst stomach cramps I have ever experienced; shortly afterwards, I became violently ill and was up most of the rest of the night, finally sleeping fitfully for another hour and a half or so. When my alarm went off at 7:00 the last thing I wanted to do was get up but I was committed to teaching at a summer music camp this week and when I say I’m going to do a thing, well, I do it. So I dragged myself out of bed, took a shower, made myself a breakfast of dry toast and ginger ale (which, unfortunately, came right back up), and headed off to work.

Bad things don’t happen to writers. It’s all material.
~ Garrison Keillor

Other than the fact that I crashed on the floor of my classroom during my hour-long lunch break I navigated through the day reasonably successfully and enjoyed my two small classes of piano students very much. Mid-afternoon, I nibbled on a handful of soda crackers and managed to keep them down; at the conclusion of camp, I came straight home, made a hearty dinner for my son and me, ate my fill, and went to bed at 7PM. Twelve hours later, when my alarm went off at its usual time, I was feeling like my usual self again. Tonight after I got home from camp I decided it was time to curl up with my laptop and make plans for the weekend.

I started by reading the first fifteen pages of Christmas at Ticklebelly Hill (working title – can you say “southern fiction?”). At first, I was disturbed by huge gaps in the storyline, then I remembered I didn’t actually start at the beginning and write chronologically. Last October, in preparation for NaNoWriMo, I outlined the story from beginning to end describing individual scenes on note cards with the intention of writing the scenes as inspiration struck placing them in the manuscript in note card order. Ah, better! Once I figured that out, although there were a few things that made me cringe, my thoughts generally ran along the lines of “Did I really write this?” and “Wow, that’s actually pretty good!” – which is way better than the alternative.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
~ A. A. Milne

In addition to the note card scene outline, I found a couple of pages of character sketches with names and descriptions of all the main characters in the story as well as about five typewritten pages of backstory. All of will help me keep straight who my characters people are, where they come from, and what makes them tick. I wish I hadn’t thrown away all my old magazines after I finished my last vision board; a collage with pictures of my characters, story settings, and other visual clues might prove very helpful as I get back to the actual writing. On the other hand, time is running short; I guess I will be just fine without all that.

Now, about the actual writing. My goal is to have a 50,000 word rough draft completed during the 72 hours between midnight Friday and midnight Monday. I have 50 scene cards drafted, so assuming each scene is approximately a thousand words, roughing out all these scenes will bring me to my goal. And since I have nearly 5,000 words written already, just 15,000 words each day will get the novel finished. That’s a thousand words an hour, fifteen hours each day. That still leaves me with an hour per day for food and restroom breaks, and eight hours each night to sleep.

I think I can.

Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.
~ Unknown

Although my eventual goal is an 80,000 word final draft, polished and ready for submission to enthusiastic agents and editors (thinking positive here), the revision will necessarily take place more slowly. Even in the midst of my regularly scheduled life as pianist and teacher, perhaps I can make time to revise a scene a day or (more likely) dedicate a chunk of time each weekend, perhaps a few hours every Sunday afternoon, to revision.

I don’t know how this all will end. Worst case scenario, I will spend a long weekend drafting a novel that no one besides myself will ever read. On the other hand, this could be the start of something big.

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and focus on what could go right.
~ Unknown