Am I Writing a Novel?

New words in the new binder.
I’ll be honest, as much as I love writing; the idea of writing a novel has always intimidated me. There are a myriad of reasons, mostly the stock ones, that have kept me from embarking on a novel (the time commitment, the complexity, it’ll suck and all that work will be wasted, I won’t have time to write short stories). Yeah, they’re all lame, and I do want to write a novel – hell, I’d like to write a novel a year if I could just work out how to tackle this first one.
I have notes, ideas, and nascent plans for a couple novels in my journals, but I keep finding ways to put off actually starting a novel. The top reason that I haven’t started this year is because I have a couple unfinished stories that I’m struggling to complete. I wanted to clear the decks before attempting a novel, even though in the back of my mind I have a suspicion that this is just another way to punt this new challenge down the road yet again.
I don’t know why I am so cagey about settling down to write a novel. Yes I love short stories, yes they are their own distinct form, and yes will always want to write them too, but novels offer a much greater canvas and I think I’m more than ready to explore the unique challenges that long form story telling has to offer.
But wait, it appears I am writing a novel.
At my last two in-person critique sessions, I’ve brought sections of one of my troublesome “novellas.” Both times, more than one Slugtriber said they felt the material they were reading feels like it is meant to be a novel. Both times, I heard a chorus of we want to spend more time in this world and with these characters (among other constructive critiques).
Considering this novella’s obstinate problems in light of expanding it to novel length makes a host of issues suddenly look manageable. Like my crit group, I also want to spend more time in this world and get to know these characters better. So, I’ve decided to go with it and just let this story be the novel that it is (hopefully) meant to be.
It appears I’ve subverted my reluctance to start a novel by inadvertently starting one. Hey, whatever works.
The time commitment still seems intimidating, but I suspect (again) that might be the panicked part of my brain trying to set up a last line of resistance. I’ve already written about 16,000 words, which just leaves 74,000 words for a 90,000 word first draft. If I set everything else aside and write 1,000 new words a day (excluding weekends) I’ll have my draft complete by October 24th.
The only real sacrifice will be setting aside my other open projects for that time. I always want to write everything all at once… 

Leaving weekends out of my plan is a kind of safety valve. I’ll have weekends for catching up or downtime, or if I get lonely for the short story form I can write a quick piece of flash fiction.
Well, that’s the plan anyway. Here we go!

2 thoughts on “Am I Writing a Novel?”

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