The sound of my voice is best heard in silence.
When forced to speak, I stumble over words, use those dreaded vocal fillers, and spend the rest of the day thinking about how and what I should have said.
When I write, all hesitancy disappears. A pen and paper act as a magic formula which allows me to ease my troubles, to solve dilemmas, to sort through my feelings and preserve my thoughts.
Writing is essential to my existence.
There are simply too many things to feel and think and know to not write them out. They overflow from my heart and translate into words, transferring fleeting experiences to permanent expressions. The things that are so hard to understand in everyday life become tangible. It’s like capturing time on paper.
I write because I’m a reader. I was an extremely quiet, shy kid, and loved books more than most people. I fell in love with the sounds and meanings of words, and loved the way they made me feel, or how they could make me escape into another world.
I wanted nothing more than to share the beauty of words with the world, so I started writing and since that moment I’ve dreamed of writing a novel. A real, full-length story that could be shared and read and reread and maybe even touch someone else’s life the way so many others have touched mine.
Last year, I completed that goal. And I did it in just 30 days.
November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Chris Beaty started an unexpected literary revolution when he laid the foundation for what is now the most exciting month of the year for writers everywhere. He and some of his friends decided to fulfill their always mentioned, but never acted upon, desire to write their own novels, and so they set a one month time frame to hold themselves accountable. Now thousands of aspiring authors around the world sign up for NaNoWriMo and race to beat the 50,000 word finish line before December 1st.
All writers dream of having a book published in their name. It is the ultimate fantasy to walk into a bookstore and see your name on the author list, to cast your own words out into the universe. We all have something to say, but the actual act of writing a full-length novel is more than a little intimidating.
Procrastination is a writer’s best friend and worst enemy. We all do it, and sometimes (we imagine) our best work comes from those final hour frantic typing sessions, clicking submit before the deadline. NaNoWriMo gives us that pressure, that little push that so many of us need to actually get the words on paper. It is like having the last-minute brilliant, deadline inspiration every single day as you climb the progress chart and watch your novel growing all month.
The November I wrote my own book was one of the best months of my life. It started in a flurry of nervous excitement—weekend coffee shop sessions with my laptop and night time word count updates while I planned and fell in love with my characters and their story. But as the days dwindled, the excitement turned to sheer panic. I desperately wrote frantic sentences while waiting in line at the grocery store, jotted down words at red lights, gave up sleeping to type. My novel was my life.
It was the single best detox and the most effective therapy I’ve ever experienced. Writing it saved me from my past, from myself. Forget lemon water, diets, or spa days—putting to paper the story that lives within us all healed my soul, my heart, and my mind.
I’ll never forget when it was finally over. A flood of relief and celebration washed over me as I tasted freedom and watched confetti fill my screen when I passed the 50,000 word mark. But the moment was brief, and what followed was silence. Quiet and grief overwhelmed me for days. For so long I’d carried the weight of regret and remembrance. Not a day went by without my being reminded of days gone by. I laid to rest unrequited emotions, thoughts, and ideas that I didn’t even know I had.
There was finally nothing stopping me from living in the present, finally space for me to grow and to be. Now the ghosts of my past can live between the pages of my novel, so that I might live again.
Author: Gabriella Sweezey
Image: Lacy Gillott via Pixoto
Editor: Travis May