This is my two hundredth post! Can you believe it? I’m proud of myself for posting on this blog almost every day, and you know, it’s changed my writing in ways I could never have imagined. I write more easily now, more quickly. And I think the quality of my writing is actually higher.
I set myself that challenge last fall, when I began this blog: write a blog post a day. If you look at my statistics from various months, you’ll see that there are months when I didn’t do that, months in which I couldn’t keep up. But for the most part, I did. It feels like an accomplishment. Now I’m setting myself another challenge. In June, July, and August, I have to finalize my dissertation: write the introduction, make final revisions to the three chapters. But I want to do more than that.
I want to write a YA novel.
And I’m not the only one. I’ve set myself a challenge, and two other people are setting themselves the same challenge: write a YA novel, or at least part of a YA novel, in three months. Those two other people are Nathan Ballingrud and Alexandra Duncan, who are both wonderful writers. We’ve barely had time to talk about the details yet, but I think this is what it’s going to look like. We’re each going to set goals for ourselves and try to meet them. My goal will be to write 1000 words a day, every day. That goal is based on the fact that a YA novel is typically around 75,000-100,000 words long. It’s also inspired by Holly Black’s statement that she wrote Black Heart in 81 days. Those three months will give me 92 days in which to write a YA novel. Well, at least the first draft.
I don’t yet know what Nathan’s and Alexa’s goals will be. I’m going to ask them tonight. We’ve talked briefly about getting together to critique our manuscripts, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do that in person at least once. Which means flying down to Asheville, North Carolina, where they both live, later in the summer. Asheville is one of my favorite places, and I haven’t been there for years, so I’m very excited.
The novel itself will be based on a story of mine that was published on Strange Horizons: “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter.” The story won the Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll for best story, it was one of the storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories, and it’s now a Locus Awards finalist. So I get the sense that people respond to it, and I think what they respond to most are the characters. Well, I want to write the further adventures of some of those characters. I’m not going to give you any more details now, because I have a lot of other work I need to get done tonight, before I leave for Wiscon on Thursday. But I’ll start giving you more details when I get back.
Why am I telling you all this, rather than keeping it a deep, dark secret? First, because I’m going to be posting about my progress. Word counts, perhaps excerpts, certainly thoughts about what I’m doing. I’ll try to post about my progress at least once a week. Hopefully, Nathan and Alexa will decide to do that as well, and I’ll be able to link to their posts. Second, because I know that many of you are writers and might be interested in doing the same thing. So if you want to take up the YA Novel Challenge and write a YA novel, or part of one, in the next three months, please feel free to tell me about it, let me know how it’s going. Just if you want to, you know. (But wouldn’t it be fun?)
I’m writing this a bit prematurely because there are a lot of things Nathan, Alexa, and I still need to discuss, but I wanted to get this post up tonight because I have a feeling that tomorrow night is going to be one of those mad packing nights I often have before conventions. When I will be trying to find a clutch to go with my dress for the banquet, and that sort of thing. (I think the dress will be a burgundy velvet dress I found at a thrift store. The sort of dress that Jane Morris would wear to the Wiscon banquet. I still need to pick out the jewelry, but I have some garnets – somewhere.)
So there you are, the YA Novel Challenge. Will I succeed? I will certainly fail at various points along the way. I’m expecting that. But I’m very excited about this project.
I think it’s finally summer.
Do you know how I can tell? The lilies of the valley are almost done blooming. I cut several today and put them in a vase. They smell heavenly.
But also, I have two summer projects that I’m looking forward to: finishing the dissertation, and this one. I can’t wait to start.