Yes… I may be in the midst of applying to grad programs (for Fall 2013), gearing up for a cross-country move (Summer 2013), and completing a Masters Thesis so I can graduate from my current grad program (June 2013!) Also, I am working about 20 hours a week at a job I love, and trying to maintain something resembling a social life. Not to mention this poor, neglected blog.
So, what did I decide to do in November? I go and join National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I had already decided that I was going to run the Young Writers Program Version at work, so figured why not. I could set the goal of 50,000 words for myself and try my hand at fiction writing again. It has been a number of years since I’ve done any real fiction writing, and perhaps over a year since I’ve really done ANY. I started to really write when I was in middle school, scribbling away in notebooks throughout the summer, and since I’ve had a computer I’ve typed them up – giving me files and files of fiction from different stages of my life. Through high school and college I started to create a folder per year, in which I could store all the new writings in some sort of semi-organized fashion. 2009′s folder had very few documents in it – some which were copied from earlier years. 2010 had even less, and 2011 did not have a folder at all. There was a time when writing stories served as my life-blood. I could not imagine life without it, and I found my writing time to be refreshing, energizing, and just plain fun. I thought perhaps I was replacing that with other kinds of writing: personal reflections, newsletter articles, sermons and homilies. And, certainly, my creativity comes into some of that work, but it wasn’t the same, no matter how much I tried to convince myself it was.
The thing is, I had not even realized how much fiction writing really meant to me. Not until I actually started to write.
My initial plan was not to “win” Nano… 50,000 words is a rather lot, especially when juggling the things that I am juggling. I just thought it would be nice to try my hand at writing again. Figured that I’d consider myself a winner if I managed 20,000.. or even 10,000. The point was, I wanted to write.
When the writing first started to dwindle it was painful – like any sort of mourning process, I felt a loss. I may even have gone through the famous Kübler-Ross five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. No… there is no maybe, I did go through those stages, in my own way. But now I had little recollection of how hard it was when I found I could not write as I once did. So, blissfully unaware (you’ve got to love when your memory lets you forget just how painful some things have been) of what it was like when I felt I “couldn’t” write, I embarked on this plan to start writing, even just a little bit.
What I failed to factor into this plan to leisurely allow myself to ease back into writing fiction was the fact that I can, at times, get highly competitive. Even if it is just with myself. I have had moments where I set out to prove something, just because someone seems to indicate that it can’t be done. Competitive, stubborn, determined…
I started slowly, the first two weeks writing just a little bit here and there. And the story, to be perfectly honest, sucked. It was boring, it was slow, it had no direction. I had not planned anything out, just sat down and started to write. Never before had I managed to completely shut off that inner editor and write, what Anne Lamott calls the “shitty first draft” (which is not to say that everything I have ever written has been spectacular I just never kept going with it when I realized just how horrible it might be, and would try to go back and revise and revise and fix things to get it better). But, the monstrosity that I was plugging away on, it was definitely not something I would want to share. Ever. I was trying to write my way to a story, and to characters, and that was painfully clear as I worked.
But then, around day 19, something happened. I jumped ahead in the story, and found myself writing a scene where things actually were happening. Slowly the characters started to take form. I began to see the threads of an actual story, and my characters gained dimension and depth. No, it is still not anywhere near ready to be seen by anyone other than myself. There’s a lot of work to be done before I can think about doing anything with it – it needs to have a lot cut out, and there is rearranging that needs to be done. Things need to be rewritten, and there are a few serious continuity issues. But… I did it. I wrote a 50,000 word story in less than a month.
And now I am back to feeling that urge to write. I am putting aside time every day to write, and it feels good to do so – and I find myself during the day thinking about the stories I’m working on (because as soon as I won Nano I wanted to start working on another story!) I feel different, writing fiction every day. I can’t quite quantify it, but I know this is a good thing. And it makes me wonder what would happen if I started back into those other things that I used to do that fed me so much, things that I have let fall by the wayside as I got bogged down in things like work and bills. Like dancing, or playing my cello. But I think I’d better take it a bit at a time, December I’ll work on writing daily, and updating my blog.. uhm.. at least a few times. Then I can start adding more in.
I think it’s good to get the reminder sometimes, that we need to take the time to do those things which nourish us, which feed our souls and give us a chance to rest and relax. I’ve never been able to meditate, but I think that writing can serve that for me. It is a time when I can let go of pressures, stresses, and worries. It’s a time when I can delve into a world of my own creation, and explore things, create things. I love it, and wonder how I had managed to not have this kind of writing for the past few years of my life. It is, has been, a part of my life-blood.
Oh.. and I can get as melodramatic, sappy, and silly, as I like without anyone calling me on it – because no one will see it unless I let them :)