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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.


Jennifer Echols said...

I was tweaking and playing with phrases and just enjoying the feel of the words rolling around in my mind.

This is what I love so much about your writing, Barb--especially in the novel that isn't going to be released as planned next year (but WILL find a home). When I read your stuff, the joy and the playfulness that you felt in writing really comes through. I'm glad you're rediscovering that this month.

Alyson Noel said...

Yay Barb!
So glad you're "back"-!!!!

jenny O'Connell said...

Oh, Barb, that's the great thing about the end of the year - starting anew!! (well, that and that egg nog is on the shelves again, thank god for eggnog).

It's a strange time for a lot of writers, I think the state of the economy and its effect on the publishing industry will cause a lot of us to have moments of reflection.

I've had a sort of writing malaise as well, but I hear you when you say that when it starts to clicks it just clicks. And that's what makes it worth it. (I think, at least most of the time, sorta...)

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Thanks so much, y'all-- it's been a very strange, trippy year, for a lot of us, right?

Then again, this is a strange, trippy business.

Here's to a LOVELY 2009 for all of us.

And to eggnog, because it is, indeed, the nectar of the gods. *g*

Danielle Joseph said...

Barb, I too am glad that you have rediscovered your writing this month. Writing is such a tricky business, definitely no sure thing! So it is important that we get joy from it and grow as writers! So I wish you a happy and fruitful 2009!!