A Word on Wednesday: Dabbling

Dabble, verb, to play and splash in or as if in water; to work at anything in an irregular or superficial manner.

Having published poetry, journalism, and a memoir, I continue to dabble in fiction. I have 275 pages of a novel written, working title “Poetic License.” This draft is, by my estimation, about half finished.

I know people will be more impressed by what I finish than what I start. Yet, I have merely tested the waters, got my toes wet.


There is a gimmick-like promotion well known to aspiring novelists, NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is a sort of boot camp for writers. By following the prescription of writing roughly 1,600 words a day, one can complete a 50,000-word novel in the thirty days of November.

Truth be told, my draft already has 50,000 words. I have puttered with plot, fiddled with form, and toyed with characters and setting. My interest in this project has ebbed and flowed for more than five years. Writing friends have read chapters, given critiques and resounding support to keep going. “There is something here,” they say.

I pick up the book for a day here and there. I won’t say I have Writer’s Block. I will admit to self doubt. The thing about 50,000 words is that it is A LOT! But, also, not enough! A first novel is 70,000 to 80,000 words. A finished novel is also said to be the rough draft minus ten percent in the editing process. I do have plenty of work to do to complete the draft. And the draft is just that, a baby step to completing the novel.

There have been other Novembers where I say I will commit to the thirty days of writing. I haven’t. Maybe this month will be different. Maybe 2019 is my year!

There is a saying, “you become effective by being selective.” In order to stop dabbling, I need to reject other pastimes. For me, for fiction, for the aspiring novelist in me, I will dip a little and often and hopefully not superficially.


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