I have never been more busy and overwhelmed by work in my 29 years of teaching. 55-60 hours a week for a salary that contracts for 37.5 […and that’s all I’m going to say about that–I don’t want to be a pisser-and-moaner as I chose this career. Neither, however, do I want to pretend the situation is fair or equitable, so I’ve made my note, now back to the subject at hand!]. Still, despite the workload, I’m going to try my hand at NaNo once again. Three “wins,” as the NaNo gods like to say, and two losses, which they do not like to say, leave me with no illusions as to how hard it will be under present work conditions.
As plans slowly swirl and simmer, rising from the cavernous depths of soul-crushing career sludge concerning plot-lines, characters, research, etc. (stop with the Beowulfian alliteration already–you’ve had your rant!), and I begin to take notes, a few observations need annotation.
I MUST absolutely stop, at least for a time, listening to, reading the advice of, or using the process-programs of writing experts. This is NOT even remotely to suggest that what the experts have to say is without value. Far from it!
I repeat: Far from it!
I have been particular in my choice of advisors, and they are an insightful (less-than-half-dozen) crew of experienced and wise authors who know their stuff. The problem is, due to the latent perfectionism I struggle with, I try to follow all their advice and/or program (books, methods, etc.) details to the letter, and in doing so corner myself in a writing paralysis.
In frustration my right-brain howls to be let loose from its cage, while my left-brain, holding the keys shakes its head sadly and sighs,
“It’s for your own good, you know. I can’t just let you go your own way, willy-nilly. What if you get it wrong? What if there’s some insight on the next page, in the next exercise, after the next step that could unlock everything, and we’d miss it because you were barking up the wrong literary tree?” Eventually the standoff ends up with both falling into a coma under a deep career snowdrift.
That will stop.
None of my chosen experts would approve of such a state; indeed, they would be appalled that I’d allowed it to occur and horrified that I’d done so while navigating their materials and advice. The idea is to help not hinder which is why I fully shoulder the responsibility of my reaction.
Sit down and write.
I need a schedule. I know such is but an aid, but it is an aid that can develop its own energy if I can just stick to it for the first week or two, after which it becomes easier. I’ve decided to try the following:
M-F: Four 20-minute sessions between 18:00 and 21:00 for a goal of 400 words per session.
S-Sn: Two six-hour sessions between 05:00 and 11:00 for a goal of 4,250 words per session.
This schedule has an amazing built-in safety net: the Thanksgiving Holidays. I am off for the whole week of US Thanksgiving and can easily make up any deficits should they occur–and they will!
While my smartphone timer does have a certain amount of compelling magic, I may need some backup and have decided to employ internet-blocking productivity software. My eye is on pair of programs by the maker of Cold-Turkey which just might fit the bill. Interestingly, the weekend sessions do not worry me so much as the daily sessions do; they will be a significant hurdle considering work-week demands. Such software would be a great help.
What shall I then write? Ah, the constant troubled dream of my right-brain–my caged and chained MUSE [LOL! “Such romantic poppy-cock!” condescends the Left]. All my NaNo projects: Scions of the Moon, The Kraters of Ivory and Jet, Arenn’s Sorrows, and “WIP 7,” as well as a few brainstorm-entertained non-NaNo ideas, have yet to be finished. I do not mean polished or revised but completed to the end of their character arc or plot. Rather than search for and start a new idea, which may or may not end up unfinished as well, I am inclined rather to review and pick up the threads of one referred to above.
Eärinna’ar, Eärinna’ar! A thousand voices call.
Under present circumstances, it’s doubtful Ouroboros will ever be explored via the gaming table again. This observation is not an oblique query, subtle hint, or passive-aggressive accusation. It’s simply a realistic observation. Ouroboros has grown too large, too complex, too specific in its variety, and in light of less dense material and mechanics, it’s simply too “hard a sell.”
There is indeed, a certain unmistakeable irony here in that a portion of Ouroboros and Eärinna’ar’s creation inevitably occurred in the name of gaming. It must be understood, however, that though the conduit offered a mutually beneficial exchange, she wasn’t created specifically for gaming but rather for imagined fiction.
Regardless, I want to explore more of it. It is compelling to me, and if the Muse is reluctant to field a different idea and beckons me here, why not answer its call? Might not the constant slow-burn yearning and regret be assuaged by pursuing one of the unfinished plot lines above? While this may be contrary to the letter of NaNoWriMo’s law, if I’m writing new material, am I not addressing its spirit?