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Monday, November 17, 2008
Writing to the beat of my own drummer
I can easily say that this has been one of the oddest years for me, with respect to writing, I've ever had. It's the first year, since I started pursuing the craft seriously, that I haven't completed a manuscript. I started an adult MS back in January, but had to keep putting it aside for revisions on a young adult manuscript that was scheduled for release next summer and now isn't going to be released at all. And in the meantime, here was this other manuscript, sitting and gathering dust and the occasional few words when I felt inspired, which, unfortunately, wasn't often.
Yeah, I know-- it's confusing to me too. Needless to say, it's been a Year O'Drama, one to which I'll be relieved to say goodbye, if only for that whole fresh start thing. But I figured I'd at least kick start myself into gear by participating in NaNo. Four years ago, I did NaNo and "won" (i.e. put down 50K in the thirty days allotted) but timing and other deadlines conspired to keep me from participating since. And it just wasn't necessary, really. For a long stretch there, I was writing steadily, whether it was on contracted works or proposals for submission or whatever. But the sheer FUBARness that has been this year not only threw a wrench into my typical writing schedules, it also wreaked havoc with my confidence.
So NaNo-- basically, an excuse to write crap as long as you write-- seemed like a pretty good place to start. However, being me, I thought it was silly to try to start something new. I'd just pull out the project I started last January and get back to work on that. And as I got back into it, I found myself writing a lot of new words (15K so far, so I'm a little "behind" but still, a nice word count for two weeks) and even better, I found myself interested in the words that had come before. I was tweaking and playing with phrases and just enjoying the feel of the words rolling around in my mind. And I even had the plot take a slight left turn to Albuquerque even as I was shaking my wee fist and yelling at the screen, "Nooooooooo!! You cannot do this to meeee!!!"
In other words, I was back in my particular groove. I'd rediscovered my joy in writing, when I was so frightened I'd lost it, being so concerned with what the amorphous "they" were going to think about it. You know what I mean, right? The "I hope they like it," or "I wonder what they are going to think about it." Whoever "they" might be in your psyche.
And therein lies the real gift of NaNo. It's really not in the actual word count or the nifty badges and word meters or the coffeehouse write-ins. I mean, it can be—I'm not dismissing that at all. But what I'm trying to say, rather inelegantly, is that the real gift of NaNo is what you take from it. In all likelihood, I'm not going to make word count and that's okay with me. For me, this year, has been about rediscovering who I am as I writer. Rediscovering why I do this and the joy I get from it.
It's been about rediscovering how to write to the beat of my own, eccentric drummer.
So for all of you doing NaNo, good luck in finding what you most want this month.