I am finally owning up to it. I'd read several friend's blogs, friends who admit publicly that they like to write, about NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month (for those of us who are not up on the latest writing news). Basically, you try to write a novel of at least 50k words during the month of November. Apparently typical novels range from closer to 70k words (for those skinny books), to well over 100,000 or more. So 50 is really just a sort of prototype. A novella, if you will. Still a rather impressive accomplishment.
Well, over Halloween I was sitting in a training class and while I was indeed paying attention to the class, I was also surfing the web (does that make me a little ADD? quite likely...), and decided to look up what the whole NaNoWriMo thing was about. The next thing you know, I'd actually signed myself up.
What? Writing? Isn't she an engineer? I didn't think engineers read books, let alone could write them. Unless books were full of "if !(foo(bar->getData()) == NULL)". Ha! Fooled you!
I don't make much use of it at work these days, but I did actually study literature in college. Study so much of it, they gave me a pretty piece of paper in a red folio with the university seal on it. Of course, none of the stuff I read or wrote for my major in college was in English--it was in Spanish. I will admit that there was one conversation class, and one "culture" class thrown in there, but my major wasn't about ordering tequilas in a bar or asking directions around Cancun. It was pretty much all reading and analyzing literature.
So there. I've justified my qualifications. I know I shouldn't need to. But for some reason, I've never allowed myself to really admit that I have any interest in reading or writing books (or any other writing). I think it has something to do with my reactions to English teachers in high school, and my solitary semester of "English" at Wash U (really freshman composition, taught by a grad student and not even a real prof). Basically, I could not (still cannot) relate to some of those people, and got a rather bad taste in my mouth for "English" as a course of study. One high school teacher was so anti-math that she insisted on recording every grade as a letter instead of a number, and claimed to be somehow averaging all those A's, B's, C's, etc to come up with your final grade. That drove me nuts..especially since no matter what, she could not believe that what she was doing WAS math (either that or pulling final grades out of her ass, something I would easily believe of her). Deep breath. Let it out. All better. I did meet English majors who did not drive me nuts. I even liked some of them :)
While my computer science degree has done a good job of paying the bills for all of these years, that other piece of paper has helped me justify spending a lot of money on Amazon.com buying books by Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, and others (not counting all of the reading I do in my native language). I have actually missed having to write papers, and frequently spend a while after each book musing over the imagery or the characterizations, or outright allusions to other works, etc. Fun stuff. Some of those hated English teachers from way back when might be proud. I have enjoyed writing for this blog. It's kind of fun to know that other people might actually read what I write (lucky you!), but mostly it's been good to be able to write things in complete sentences on lines that don't begin with // or ' (another coding reference...if you don't understand, you're really not missing much here).
I'm not writing in Spanish. I am attempting to write something like the books that first inspired my reading: a romance. Much as I would love to be writing a historical romance, well-researched and interspersed with period detail, I don't have have the time for the research and detail part. So it's set in modern times, in a as-yet unnamed city which might bear a strong resemblance to St. Louis (location isn't terribly key to the plot as yet). I have no title--probably won't until after it's a lot more done. I have the main plotline figured out, am refining details of the characters as I go. I've had the idea (and a handful of others) swirling around in my head for years. Yes, indeed, years (since probably high school) of silently inventing characters and plots, twists and turns, and nary a word written down before (see above notes on feelings of inadequacy in English).
So far, I've only written about 11,000 words. My schedule-performance-index calculations tell me that I'm behind schedule with that, but I do have a day job or two (or is it 3...2 kids plus one that actually pays me), and I've spent an awful large amount of time with a really sick baby this week. Maybe I'll catch up this weekend. I have quite a few scenes running through my head at various times, so when I'm not actually at the keyboard (and not at work...I am trying really really really hard not to do this at work), in theory I'm still working on it.
Will anyone get to read it? We'll see. I don't think it's that bad so far. It's nice right now that I am under no pressure professionally to actually write a book. If I do, great. If not, well, I'm a software enginner. In my profession, writing fiction is usually frowned on...