Day One of the Writing Challenge

Last night – June 1st – I got off the subway on a mission: I had to write at least 500 words prior to bedtime.  Simple, you say?  For most, yes.  But for me, it took serious effort.  It wasn’t hard working it in to my schedule.  I had declined happy hour invitations earlier in the day for this momentous start to my summer writing challenge, and after a trip to the market for veggies and fruits and dinner/kitchen social hour with my roommate, I opened up the laptop with every intention to write. 

But then Resistance came aknockin’.

The air conditioning refused to work.  I cannot write in a stuffy 90 degree apartment, I thought, so I tracked down a fan.  Then I turned on some music, only to find that Matthew Mayfield‘s tunes tempted me into more daydreams and less written paragraphs. 

Somewhere between dinner and eight o’clock, I discovered that I could get more done in my room, so I moved everything – including the fan – to my bedroom and arranged the laptop on my bed.  Within 15 minutes, I had to reposition the fan since the constant breeze was making me sleepy.  And just about then, I succumbed to the disastrous gchat option of my gmail account.

Fortunately, I have a disciplined and motivated roommate who threatened me during this process.  I couldn’t have ice-cream until I hit the 500 word mark.  She would take away my fan if I didn’t get off gchat.  And then, she threatened to disconnect my Internet connection.  And it took all of these things (plus a healthy dose of name-calling) to get me to 500 words.

Five hundred words is nothing.  About one single-spaced page.  Yet it took me nearly three hours to finish.  And every word was agony.  Why?  Because I’m out of practice.  I’ve spent my past months jotting paragraphs on notepads and diner napkins, writing non-fiction, and planning my story.  I’ve read extensively.  But nothing compares to getting a story out on paper.  It takes effort, building up characters, weaving in themes and plot twists, finding the perfect tone and voice for one particular story.  It’s difficult, and it often feels like manual labor.  But it gets easier.

Here’s to the first 500 or so words.  It’s a beginning, and often initiation is the hardest part.  The journey can only get sweeter from here (right?).

Are you up for creating a summer writing (or creating anything for that matter) challenge?  Is 500 words too much?  Too little?  I’d love to hear it…I now know that it will take a village to raise up a novel.