Literature has been around for a long time. Reading a book called A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland, I have very quickly realised (as the author himself states) that the history of literature is anything but little. As an aspiring author, this makes me both happy and a little bit… nervous. I love the idea that if I manage to become a successful author one day, I will be able to add something meaningful to literature, to which countless masterpieces have been contributed. Even if my piece of literature may not be anything close to their standards, it would be brilliant to be a part of something so vast that it spreads to nearly every nook and cranny of the world.
On the other hand, I wonder if I will ever be able to write something that will be truly new. It is true, as Sir Isaac Newton put it, that one can see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants”, but nevertheless, each timeless work seems to have something new, something original to it that makes it the masterpiece it is.
Right now, I’m not aiming to create a masterpiece. I don’t think I’m at a level of expertise where I can even begin to create a masterpiece. But participating in NaNoWriMo has led me to wonder this about any piece of writing I create – will anything I ever write be absolutely original? If I write, “The sky darkened as if someone had spilled ink onto it” how will I know whether this simile has already not been worn out? When describing a stormy day, I’m sure that the phrases ‘whistling/howling wind’ or ‘steel grey sky’ have already been used. I’m not insinuating that they can’t be used again, but will this impede any piece from being original?
I don’t know very much about writing yet. I know that imagination, creativity, practice and of course, writing from the heart can take one a long way. But until I can learn about the intricate mechanics of literature in more depth, I guess I will just have to keep writing (whether what I write seems fresh and original or old and dreary) because that, to me, is the best way to learn.
“Your intuition knows what it wants to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury
Today, I started reading a book entitled ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ by Chris Baty. He is the founder of National Novel Writing Month, during which, you guessed it, participants write a novel in a month. He mentions that NaNoWriMo, as they call it, starts at the beginning of November, which is, you guessed it, tomorrow. What a coincidence that I happened to read this book today, when National Novel Writing Month starts just a day after.
Probably not. As happy as I am to learn about this just in time, I would actually have preferred more time to prepare. Nevertheless, I have decided to participate, because how else will I learn, if I don’t try (and possibly fail)?
The 50,000 words that will officially turn a ‘short story’ into a ‘novel’ seem further away than Mars, but wish me luck! And if you feel like battling writer’s block, flat characters, humongous plot holes and other kinds of hurdles encountered while ‘noveling,’ then sign up too!