Writer’s block was just the excuse Launcher Alex Slotkin needed to join National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For Alex, this month-long experiment to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days turned into an eight-year project. We recently asked him to tell us about the novel he’s been working on for the past several years and elaborate on what inspires his writing in and outside of work.
What inspired you to start writing your novel?
I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, and have tried to pen the Great American Novel several times, only to give up after a few chapters. Several years ago, I heard about NaNoWriMo and the idea of writing 50,000 words in 30 days as a way to get unstuck. I thought it was the perfect excuse to give it another go.
How do you fit writing outside of work into your schedule?
I’m not going to lie, it’s tough to fit writing in outside of work. I usually just steal whatever time I can, whether that’s at a coffee shop before heading into the office in the morning or holed up at home in the guest room after my kids go to bed.
What keeps you going?
I love to write. It’s one of the few things I’m actually pretty good at, and when it’s going well, it brings me a lot of joy. There’s nothing quite like being so deeply engrossed in a writing project that time seems to stop and everything else just drops away. It’s like a runner’s high, but without all that inconvenient exercise.
How do you think writing outside of work influences your job at Launch?
It sounds like a cliché, but I view the act of writing as akin to flexing a muscle. It gets stronger and more versatile the more you work it, and employing different modes of writing can only strengthen everything you do.
What does the future of your creative writing look like?
Right now, I am deep into the revision process on my novel—which is taking considerably more than a month to complete! I’ve learned that writing a first draft isn’t nearly as challenging as shaping it into something truly satisfying. I hope to get this novel finished and out into the world soon. In the meantime, I have had a short piece published in a zine and also produced a series of roleplaying game supplements. I have a few other projects in the works as well.
Which writers/authors inspire you?
My reading tastes tend toward the fantastical side of the spectrum. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien, Poe and Lovecraft, as well as more “literary” writers, like Steven Millhauser, George Saunders, Vladimir Nabokov and Italo Calvino.
What does NaNoWriMo mean to you?
NaNoWriMo is all about imposing a rigid constraint on your time in order to silence your inner critic and free yourself up to create. As Gustave Flaubert put it: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”