This will be my second time taking the National Novel Writing Month challenge, also known as NaNoWriMo. The first time I did it in 2009, it really was a tool to help me cope with the loss of a friend to cancer that September. I didn’t finish because the story I was writing forced me to go back and examine parts of our youth that were painful reminders of her absence by November 18, 2009, the day that would have been her 36th birthday, it really was too much an emotional ride for me to take. So I put the story away.
In the years since, the story has continued to linger in the recesses of my mind— sometimes I go there, but most times I just let it stay right where it is.
On the eve before NaNoWrimo began, the thought of this story began to resurface because I found myself thinking of a quote from one of the characters in my story, “Sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward.” Such profound words from a fictional character whose origins are rooted in my mind and in my past. It is difficult to let go of the past sometimes, and at other times, we’d rather let the past stay in the past; but there are times when going back to the past, back in time can move you forward with a greater understanding of the future. It was this reaching into the past that brought me into the present and hopefully to the future with a complete 50,000 word novel completed by the end of November. So far, I am off to a good start.
Homegirls, a story about six teen girls growing up in an inner city plagued by gun violence and how the murder of a neighborhood boy affects them and their relationships with one another. It is loosely based on the events of my teen years and it takes place in that time. With day one down, I have 7,084 words completed. The way I have built this story and the connection between the characters, if one falls, they all fall; this is my motivation to keep going and complete the challenge this go around— I can’t let these girls fall. I’m in this for the long haul and the outcome, whatever that may be, unlike the past, it totally up to me.
Taking the NaNoWriMo challenge? Tell us about your story and your progress in the comments!