The major move continues. Yesterday, we loaded up my brother-in-law’s truck with storage items and filled a rented 10′ x 15′ space with a lot of things I identify with and that defined who I’ve been. I have placed more precious things—swords, bagpipes, special collections—in storage with kind friends and relatives. I am going to go “live” in an 11′ x 11′ bedroom with about a third of my library crammed into seven bookcases lining the walls. I jokingly refer to it as “The Monk’s Cell” but think of it more as a “Hospital” or “Chrysalis” where I will convalesce and treat my divorce wounds.
I’m presently writing prelim notes for my WIP. The working title is Arenn’s Sorrows. I’ve followed Holly’s curriculum to about halfway through Lesson 9: “How To Plan Your Project Without Killing Your Story.” If I’m lucky, I’ll get the rest of it done by October’s end. Regardless, I plan to start the rough draft on November 1st using NaNoWriMo as my gate.
I’m still struck by the timing of it all: that by the evening of the 29th the move will be done, that the lease is up at midnight on the 30th, and that I’ll say “goodbye” to Bridgewood and the Last Library forever. A day later we’ll celebrate Samhainn with a fire in the pit and on that night, as the cinders whirl upwards like fiery prayers, the world will change.
While my grieving will not nearly be finished, and I’ll forever wish with all my heart that circumstances were different, nonetheless, on November 1st, I will begin again and plan to celebrate with a 1,667+ word day!
Squishy and crunchy; right and left; designer and draftsman; creator and crafter; it’s all me.
The hardest part of Lesson 3’s exercise was trying to do nothing that involved reading or heavy word-lifting while the right-brain was working. I did laundry, showered, played “Four-in-a-Row”, napped, meditated, listened to atmospheric lyric-less music, sketched, washed dishes, but of all the word neutral activities I tried, going for a walk or taking a driving were the most productive. Twice I used my Iphone’s “Voice Memos” app with good effect to record right-brain offerings and touch points—I plan to explore this option further. Twice I got lucky enough to find myself alone in the house and left to my own devices. I was able to think aloud without interruption or audience. These times proved the best for right-brain/left-brain communications and productivity.
I noted a creative equilibrium that had to be maintained as I patiently tried to give my right-brain self time to graze the Sweet-Spot Map, chew thoughtfully on what it gathered there and then deliver an idea, yet at the same time keep my left-brain under control but not completely muzzled so as to allow it to accept or deny said ideas, and then gradually afford it more lead as further definition was required and let slip the leash completely when synthesis began to occur. This balance, for me, was critical to successfully calling down lightning.
The point where the left-brain gradually turns from simply accepting or rejecting to requesting more defining information was a subtle one. Sometimes it happened without my noticing it. One moment my left-brain was giving ideas thumbs-up or thumbs-down and in the next asking “How can that work?” or “Where is this going?” and going even further as my right-brain self suddenly began offering more detailed answers.
Though note-taking was discouraged, I must confess that my absolute best sessions occurred with a red pen in one hand, a blue pen in the other (metaphorically speaking of course, though I am somewhat ambidextrous) and a sheet of quadraliniar paper between them. Right-brain laid down its questions in red and left-brain responded in blue:yea-ing, nay-ing or maybe-ing. I found that this helped keep the left-brain in check as it enthusiastically tried to run with the possibilities right-brain offered up without allowing them to percolate. More than once I had to remind my eager left-brain self to calm down, speak softly, slowly, simply and allow my right-brain self the wiggle room it needed.
Though I suffer from PERFECT, I am blessed that my left-brain self does not act so much the “inner-critic” (for which I am extremely thankful), as it does the experienced elder sibling ever ready to dispense advice and put everyone’s life in order. My left-brain was eager to start drafting plans even before my right-brain designer was finished conceptualizing the idea.
Synthesis was more easily achieved than it was identified. One idea took nearly a whole week to bring to the surface, but once the Creator and the Crafter started slamming down details together and working in more or less sync, it was pretty obvious and entertaining.
One thing I had to remind myself to do, and I don’t know if this was right or wrong, was to let go and stop worrying/refining an idea after synthesis: “…don’t expect [ideas] to be perfect or easily usable…” (bracket added by author for emphasis). I had to tell myself more than once that the exercise was not meant to produce a full-blown plot line complete with scene cards and denouement but simply a good idea with potential.
I noted that the process had sped up by the time I landed my third idea. It took a quarter of the time my first idea required. Of course this could be dependent on a great many things from the need for sleep, to an unnoticed detail on the SSM, to finally uncovering a truly writer-self appealing idea. I suspect however, that my left and right-brains were learning how better to cooperate with each other. I wonder if trying to crank out three ideas a week wouldn’t be great training to take on for a month or so as good writing exercise.
Forces in my life are at a nexus; the results of the feelings and thoughts and experiences and situations which have been developing within and without for sometime.
On January 16, Callista crossed over the bridge and now awaits me on the other side. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. So very hard, but not as hard, I found afterward, as living without her. I can hardly even think on it. I do not expect anyone to understand how much she meant to me, what an anchor she was. Understand or not, I feel what I feel. Her battle with canine osteosarcoma began in August of 2012 and lasted an amazing two years and four months. Everyday with her was a gift, a treasure I hold in my heart-of-hearts. I hope that when I am stronger, I can do her a fitting tribute and somehow tap with words—and by doing so fully heal—what she truly meant to me. As it is, the grief process has yet to allow for it, though she has come to me in my dreams…
I believe her death, though a long anticipated eventuality, was an unexpected catalyst of some sort, for my own health has taken a turn. I find myself faced with mortal realities I had never seriously considered before. So many dreams unrealized. So many goals undone. So many desires unfulfilled. Each a call with its own powerful voice. I realize now, with sobering finality, even as the dark-shadow grows within me, that the chances of answering some of those calls are gone. People age. Opportunities evaporate without notice. I can never be young again and those things appropriate and possible at 20 or 30 or 40 no longer are. This is not said with angst or bitterness. Decisions were made. Roads were taken. Songs were sung that cannot be unsung. I accept this, but it is both amazing and sobering to be made aware of it.
The Voices are strong and they sing with great power, even in my dreams. They have always been there, of course, but I did not listen with mortal ears. I heard with immortal ears.
“Fool of a Took!”
Now, they sing in a cacophony of sound that is overwhelming and jarring. So many worries. So many disappointments. So many unforeseen circumstances. As a result I have been paralyzed, unable to answer any of them. I have not been able to write fiction, for example, afraid as I am of making a misstep and sacrificing what time remains only to do exactly that with my indecision. The things I am moved to write…journals, secondary world myths, private prayers…are worthless in the greater scheme of my ambitions, earning the condemnation of writing “authorities”, whose validity though I acknowledge (after all, they are published), frustrates me nonetheless.
Chaos, the eight pointed star. I feel I am at its center surrounded by avenues, but cannot seem to choose which to take. All that still remain are open, but I understand now I no longer have time enough to take them all. I believe I must swiftly evaluate those voices, make my peace with those that can no longer be and take those that remain and move on for as far I can.
It is also sobering to realize that when it comes down to its dagger-like point, I am alone in this; no one understands those voices or fully comprehends their demands but me. As a consequence, I must face them alone. No one can choose them for me. No one can navigate them for me. No one can explain them—they are in a language known only to me. If I keep waiting for encouragement, waiting for a response, waiting for “someone” to finally offer a sense of understanding I have no hope or right to expect, then I am simply sacrificing what time I have let on a false altar of self-pity.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”
Gandalf’s admonition to Frodo resonates more strongly with me now than it did when I first read it at 10. This then could be the final battle I must face—to choose which voices to answer and travel their paths alone. For in the end, I alone am accountable. And if I have done all I can with what time I have left, then maybe I can be satisfied I did not waste it all and go to my God with a lighter heart than the one I bear at present.
The time of decision is now. I must find the bravery and integrity within to acknowledge my present reality, focus on the paths still available and walk them without regret or remorse.
As I measure my year from Samhain to Samhain, my version of “New Years” approaches. I have often written a reflective entry in my journal around this time or during the Thanksgiving holidays. There have been seasons, however, when I have avoided doing so because it was simply too uncomfortable to honestly reflect, especially when the past was extreme.
It is no exaggeration when I say that life has been challenging this season. As my closest friends and selected family understand, I have always tried to be “…the captain…” of my fate while at the same time struggling to avoid a tendency towards melancholia. As a result this uncontrollable year has been exceptionally hard on my spirit.
Some of the challenges have been external and include the gradual and seemingly unpreventable de-volvement of a marital partnership due physiological changes; the emotional and financial strain of a treasured pet’s cancer and care; the psychologically jarring experience of shattered home-owner dreams, subsequent short-sale and moving into a lackluster rental; the long distance move of one daughter and the natural and growing emotional distance of another; the chemical dependency of a son who moved “back home”; the financial, mental and spiritual stresses of hosting said son and family in far too small a space; the steadily retreating horizon of retirement due to said finances and the career demands of an unsympathetic and misguided school district administration and board.
Some of my hardest challenges, however, have come from within: a loss of health due to age and poor choices: weight gain and sleep-apnea; an automobile accident (brought on, I feel, by poor health) that, though it did not involve serious injuries or deaths, was my fault and ended in totaled cars (my own included) and higher insurance rates; the emotional and financial strain of purchasing a new car; the gradual deterioration of ambition in areas of emotional expression—bagpiping, writing and gaming—due to above; a growing anxiety stemming from a lack of privacy resulting in a short-temper, growing unhappiness and an ebb in emotional fortitude; and a growing inability to focus on complex tasks and the discipline to see them through.
I am not trying to suggest that there have been no bright moments or positive memories made during the year because there absolutely have, but in the balance, their fire, though warm at the time of burning, has been unable to hold at bay the hounds of winter.
I suppose I want to measure my year in accomplishments as I believe accomplishing things, though they may not in and of themselves alleviate my sense of anxiety, go a long way to assuaging perceived stagnation. Indeed, it may not necessarily be a sense of accomplishment I desire so much as a sense of positive forward momentum. And though I understand momentum occurs regardless if it is felt or not, if the landmarks I lay in time’s wake are lackluster and unsatisfactory or simply the results of breathing air, is it any wonder I feel as I do under the pressure of the external and internal storms I described above?
At this point, it is the accepted tradition to make a list of resolutions and resolve to accomplish them. Alas, such a strategy has never worked for me. Under the pressures mentioned above, which have no innately predictable resolutions associated with them, I cannot resolve to do anything. Plans are unable to stand up to them.
I think it would be better if I turned what energies I have to the development of stronger personal focus and discipline. Qui Gon’s “…your focus determines your reality…” resonates strongly under present conditions. I would add to this that “…discipline creates it”. I am under no illusions that stronger focus and discipline could in any way change the reality of my dog’s cancer or my son’s addiction, but they could help change my anxiety at a perceived lack of momentum or progress. I must somehow “…navigate the river…” and cease to allow the river to navigate me. I cannot alter the river’s currents, flow or changing conditions, time is time after all, but how I navigate it, how I perceive the challenges of its rapids and snags or take on the shallows or sandbars, that might be more reasonable and in my power to effect.
Even as I write the above, it seems “…fracted and corroborate..”. I feel unsure if I’m speaking the truth or simply lying to myself—something humans all too easily do. There may only be comfort in the “…doing of the thing…” and let focus and discipline take care of themselves. I just don’t know.
“RIP Ray Bradbury. Shitty day.”
After a quick search I learned that…I find it hard to even write it…Ray Bradbury died last night.
The world is a darker place for me today.
Though I never had the great good fortune or privilege to meet him, at the opening of each new school year when I begin Fahrenheit 451 with my honors classes or earlier in my teaching career—The Martian Chronicles with my sophomores, I always feel as if I am hosting the annual visit of a dear old friend and mentor.
During my first years of teaching English, The Martian Chronicles was a unit I always looked forward to exploring and re-exploring with my students. I began teaching in the early 90s and I always got a kick out of my students’ reaction to the titles of the compilation’s loosely related Martian tales. They would predictably chuckle at the dates—“January 1999—Rocket Summer” and “February 1999—Ylla” and so on and so forth as Bradbury proceeded to describe a technology that was to him at the time he penned the tale cutting edge and exotic but to my 16-year olds, who considered Star Wars a relic of their elementary school days (and later their parents’ era), archaic, rather quaint and therefore funny.
That was fine however, because it was my entry-point to a discussion of how science fiction had influenced our society and our lives. When they understood that the master writer had penned his opening tale in 1947, two years after the end of WWII and Hitler’s V2 rockets, ten years prior to Sputnik I and more than 20 years before Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon, their amusement always turned to curiosity if not outright respect. Thus, would begin an exploration of Bradbury’s Verne-ian vision, his prosaic turn of phrase, his mastery of description, his social insight that would culminate in our own imaginary exploration and colonization of Mars. I still have some of the work produced by students who, as we imagined setting up our own outpost of humanity on Mars, were forced to deal with the same challenges, moral dilemmas and ethical conundrums as faced by Bradbury’s protagonists. We set up pretend societies and developed faux cultures, exotic alphabets, New Martian laws and institutions. One year a class accused another class’s colony of “war-crimes” against the indigenous Martian population. Another year and a student imagined the political campaign of a New Martian faction that advocated succession from a Terra Ferma that, as she passionately put it, “…burned books, polluted the air and oceans and refused to learn the lessons of its history.” I think Spender would have been pleased.
I look back on those days with great fondness. Bradbury, though in his 70s, was alive and writing, his literary ideas and intellectual challenges resonated with my students (as they will forever). I was younger and full of an idealism that seemed to feed off his writing. It was a glorious time. My copy of the Chronicles was a 1963 edition published by Time Inc. It included stories that later editions would not have: “The Fire Balloons,” “The Wilderness,” and the provoking “The Way in the Middle of the Air,” which would later in the year dovetailed so splendidly with To Kill a Mockingbird. I understand that a The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition has since been published with a section entitled “The Other Martian Tales” which includes 22 additional stories, some unpublished. I hope to read them one day.
I mourn his passing as a member of his extended literary family of would-be writers who took inspiration from his example, his extraordinary voice and wonderful visions. His Zen in the Art of Writing was my constant bedside companion for many years. My copy is marked, highlighted and underlined chronicling my own search for a Muse worth writing for. I regret never having heard him speak. Not long ago there was a writers’ conference in southern California wherein he spoke at a dinner event. Though tempted I decided against attending due to the price, time and distance. How deeply I repent that decision now. I’d always hoped to tell him, in some way or another, of his influence on both my teaching and my writing aspirations. I should have at least written. I would have loved to had him sign my copy of The Martian Chronicles; it would have become a family-treasure! As it is, I’ll have to settle with this small tribute, re-reading his works and searching out digital recordings on the Internet. Take a lesson, Andre’ :-T
His passing reminds me that time waits for no one and that the end of an epoch approaches. Only a few of the writers who made serious inroads into my heart and mind during that magical time when the young truly “discover” reading what they want to read as a unique and singularly powerful and empowering privilege, still remain alive: Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Michael Moorcock and Jack Vance—authors who along with Clark, Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Tolkien, Zelazny, Norton, Lewis and Leiber (themselves the prodigy of Howard, Lovecraft, Burroughs and the like) will forever stand tall in my dreams, all my “Writing” fore-bearers, grand parents, aunts and uncles.
I will never leave such a literary foot print as Bradbury, to whom I owe so much for my teaching, as well as writing, inspiration, but if I plan to leave any literary mark at all, be the writing-son I want to be, I must release my doubts, put away my apprehensions; I must damn the naysayers who tout “…too late…too old…too overdone…too cliché…too quaint…too passé…” I must, as the master put it, order my doubts to, …stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do (Zen 139). I am thankfully reminded of his poem Troy…a gift wherein I have always found comfort and inspiration. I hope I will be forgiven if I quote it in full here.
My Troy was there, of course,
Though people said: Not so.
Blind Homer’s dead. His ancient myth’s
No way to go. Leave off. Don’t dig.
But I then rigged some means whereby
To seam my earthen soul
I knew my Troy.
Folks warned this boy it was mere tale
And nothing more.
I bore their warning, with a smile,
While all the while my spade
Was delving Homer’s gardened sun and shade.
Gods! Never mind! Cried friends: Dumb Homer’s blind!
How can he show you ruins that n’er were?
I’m sure, I said. He speaks. I hear. I’m sure.
Their advice spurned
I dug when all their backs were turned,
For I had learned when I was eight:
Doom was my Fate, they said. The world would end!
That day I panicked, thought it true,
That you and I and they
Would never see the light of the next day—
Yet that day came.
With shame I saw it come, recalled my doubt
And wondered what those Doomsters were about?
From that day on I kept a private joy,
And did not let them sense
My buried Troy;
For if they had, what scorns,
I sealed my City deep
From all those folks;
And, growing, dug each day. What did I find
And given as gift by Homer old and Homer blind?
One Troy? No, ten!
Ten Troys? No, two times ten! Three dozen!
And each a richer, finer, brighter cousin!
And in my flesh and blood,
And each one true.
So what’s this mean?
Go dig the Troy in you(150-1)!
Good-bye, my Writing-sire, and though, as you quoted Byron in “June 2001—And The Moon Be Still As Bright,” …we’ll go no more a-roving,/So late into the night, I will continue to dig for my Troy, my Tanelorn, my Camelot…my own Martian city wherein the denizens celebrate exotic festivals and, “There are beautiful boats as slim as women, beautiful women as slim as boats, women the color of sand, women with fire flowers in their hands…” (Martian 107), long wine-filled canals, towers of bone and crystal, with “…great friezes of beautiful animals, white limbed cat things, and yellow-limbed sun symbols, and statues of bull-like creatures and statues of men and women and huge fine-featured dogs”(85). I will dig and succeed to whatever measure and in whatever form Fate and my Muse and my Desire see fit to afford for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words, your visions and your inspirations, my writing-father. Because of you, the moon will forever be as bright and Mars as real as the moon.
So, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.
–Lord Byron, 1817
Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles. New York: Time Inc., 1963.
Bradbury, Ray. Zen In the Art of Writing. New York: Bantam Books, 1990.
I was warned and thought I believed the warning. From my present perspective however, I have to admit that deep down in my muddy subconscious, I must have thought I was an exception. I must have…because I find I am in the very place I was warned I would end up if I did.
I cheated on my main manuscript and now, she and the manuscript I was seduced by have both left me.
Yes, I, who have suffered the pain of adultery in real life, subjected my manuscript to the same disrespect and hurt. The odd thing is, I wasn’t lured away by a, “Sexy next book.” My siren was the NaNoWriMo project. The rules of the project require starting a new manuscript, but starting a new manuscript while I was still involved with the old one was exactly what Heather Sellers warned not to do in chapter 20 “Sexy Next Book” of Chapter After Chapter.
Oh, I thought I had it all worked out. The Kevodron would be primary manuscript and Scions would be the work I had waiting in the wings. When The Kevodran was finished, I’d pickup where I’d left off with Scions. It would then be the primary manuscript. Then, at the next NaNo, while still working on Scions, I’d take a break, work up something new as a secondary project and then return to Scions when the NaNo was over and finish it off. It was such a pretty plan.
What is odd is I was not all that enamored with Scions of the Moon, my NaNo project, in the first place so I was constantly thinking about The Kevodran, my first love, even while dallying with Scions. A whole load o’guilt, oh yes.
When the month ended, I stopped writing on Scions nearly immediately, but when I turned back to The Kevodran, she had turned away from me. She was, and still is, pissed off and holding me at arms length. I can’t say I blame her, I mean damn, who wouldn’t?
Surfacing from the metaphor, I’m suffering from the “Creep”—just as Heather warned I would. Because I wasn’t fully committed to one idea, I had ceased to think about it, keep it in the forefront of my mind, meditating on the characters and plot, viewing all life through the lens of its reality. As a consequence, it has crept away. I opened up The Kevodran and it felt like I was suddenly looking up a very tall, very steep and rugged mountainside that I had to ascend to get back on top.
“So far,” I thought and I was instantly and totally drained of energy and I hadn’t even fingered a key.
I closed the document.
Thus, I haven’t written anything substantial or added anything to either of the manuscripts since the end of November, ’11. The end of semester, the holidays and HOL homework has demanded a significant portion of my attention, it is true, but the fact remains I have not returned to my 04:00 writing practice. I get up at that time, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not working on either manuscript. The truth is The Kevodran has crept away from me, hurt and disrespected and now, Scions, being left suddenly alone, has done the same and here I am once again writing about writing. Sigh.
I should have listened to Heather. I bloody well knew better! I should have taken Brandon Sanderson’s advice and done the NaNo as I know I should have—namely writing from Orja’s point-of-view—because that’s where I was, that’s where the fire was burning. Screw starting a new manuscript. One writer: one manuscript to the bitter end, baby.
Now that I realize my mistake, what do I do?
Obviously I need to make peace with one of the two manuscripts, reacquaint myself with its information, re-immerse myself into its mental reality—essentially, spend the time needed to get back into her good graces, long and arduous though it might be, and remain faithful to the end.
This situation begs the question, once again, concerning the nature of the writer’s life and how I am living it. I’m not going to revisit all the demands on my time like some jilted lover re-hashing with his friends, over and over again what happened as he works it out. I put myself on notice, once again however, that unless I can find a rhythm, a writing practice that I can consistently maintain, then all my efforts are wasted. A dreadful thought with sobering consequences.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
I posted the following yesterday to the OLL blog. I’m not going to link it because things got a little out of hand when it came to copying and pasting my missive from MSWord to the blog and it copied twice and placed an ‘enter/return’ after just about every paragraph. I have no doubt posters who followed were wondering who the dingle was that took up all the space. With a sigh, I raise my hand. Yep, I’m the asshole who obviously was trying to get the most attention. In my own defense, there was no edit or delete option I could find. Anyway, since “Post NaNo Blues,” I’ve been thinking while listening to Jim Dale’s superb voice-acting on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the way to work, trying to fit my big-boy suit on and get back in the writing saddle. Yes, I’m still somewhat bummed, but it’s time to get it under control and look at the ‘good-stuff’ I happened across while doing-the-NaNo (sound like a new dance) and in retrospect there was a lot. Not the least of which was a greater appreciation of being a storyteller amongst storytellers.
Storytelling can be such a lonely business in modern society. The lone writer pounds or scribbles out his or her story in silence and privacy without any grantees the tale will see the light of day or ever be read or heard by anyone other than themselves. Writing can sometimes feel like a life-sentence more than a life’s vocation. The appreciative, receptive and immediate community that responded to the Irish seanchaí or the Indian vyas does not, for the most part, exist for the modern writer, but we ache for it nonetheless–something in our storytelling DNA remembers the aboriginal fires and dramatic shadows dancing across cold cave walls.
Though I played with the idea of participating in the NaNoWriMo for sometime, even lurked a bit on site during the ‘off season,’ I could never work up the wherewithal to tackle it. I constantly made excuses: too much work, too much family, too many outside obligations. After a summer of what I call, “writing like a man on fire,” in which I made 50k targets on a couple of NaNoWriMo-wannabe-clone-sites, I decided this year would be different; this year I would take on the NaNoWriMo and regardless of where I ended up, I’d get there fighting the good fight. Well, I did and I made it and battered, bruised and wheezing I arrived at the winners’ circle.
More important to me than making the target however, has been the discovery of an amazingly supportive and world wide community of storytellers and folk interested in seeing stories told. It has made the difference between my summer experiences and the NaNoWriMo as marked as night and day. The ease of site navigation made it conducive to poking about and exploring, something I would not have done had it been slow or disconnected. As it was I met some wonderful writing buddies, read amazing and funny posts, checked out my region and attended a write-in of four brave souls including myself. I enjoyed and appreciated the communication between staff and WriMo’s, the videos, blog posts and encouraging letters. It was so delightful and inspiring.
I was so impressed by the resources afforded by the program, so moved by the active participation of staff and WriMo’s, that I went so far as to set up a fund-raising page and campaign for sponsorships. You cannot know what a step and endorsement that was for me. I detest fund raising. I have very strong adverse feelings about it, but the sincerity and dedication of staff and the underlying theme and emphasis of the program was something that this crusty old English teacher could truly get behind and support.
The bottom line however, is that my first experience with the NaNoWriMo turned out as wonderful as it did because of the amazing sub-culture of support and acceptance built around and into it. It is a warm and welcoming, encouraging, entertaining and immediate community. Being a part of this whole thing has been a heady and invigorating experience, so much so that it’s almost depressing to have it come to an end. I walk away, however wistfully, inspired to keep writing, to keep on storytelling, armed with a new perspective of what is possible and with the knowledge that there are so, so many others like me out there aching to tell a story ,completely grateful to finally find a place, a warm crackling fire surrounded by glowing up turned faces, to begin telling our tales.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.
This is not meant to be a profile, but I see some irony in my long standing choice of screen name and what I’m feeling right now…some synchronicity and some paradox.
I am a writer and therefore a lone wolf of sorts, writing being the lonely business all the experts purport it to be.
I am not, however, a ‘dark man of mystery’ that my choice of totem might insinuate, not by even the most outrageous stretch of the imagination. I think I work with so many “Bride-of-Satan” and “Misunderstood-vampire” types—cue the heavy sigh—as a high school teacher that the image lost its savor long long ago. No, the wolf I picture myself as is not furtive or tragic in its creativity, but one who is naturally prone to warm smiles and a ready laugh, though I admit to being moon-sensitive, prone to introspection and melancholy in my private moments.
Actually, my students call me, “Papa-Bear.” One rather bright young oracle, and with an accuracy that actually scared me, called me “The Sad Clown.” Shurg. We all have our ups and downs.
I guess I’m on a down now that the NaNo experience is over, some sort of post-NaNo Depression, and am suffering an onset of withdraws. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was such a phenomenon, the mind being what it is, but I’m just a bit taken aback at being subject to it myself. I suppose it stands to reason though.
First there was all that build up in the weeks prior to the event. I’m not a pantster, but an outliner from way back, so my approach to the month was built on previous ideas and outlines that were the basis for a fairly extensively laid out plan of attack. I was checking out what others were up to in their novel synopsis and snippets. There were forums to digest, writing buddies to carefully pick, donations to make and regions explore.
Then there was month itself was full of activities that spawned spin offs and narrower explorations: forums to monitor, author and novel descriptions to write, a sponsorship page to set up, NaNoMail to send and read, Regional activities and Write-ins. The final push for the finish line was chaotic and blinding; it’s focus so sharp and pointed.
BAM! Suddenly it’s November 30th and it’s done-done-duuuun!
An odd lull set in afterward, a sudden silence, followed by the Scrivener build up that produced anothera flurry of writing centered activities: project saving, uninstalling the beta version, installing the full trial version and uploading the project, getting the 50% off coupon for the win, pay for the license and apply it.
So now what? Continue to work on my NaNo project? Return to work on The Kevodran? Try and make up for being absent at HOL and finish all my homework?
I’m in a weird space.
During the lull between NaNo and Scrivener I blogged a bit (three versions of this). I spent too much time trolling the NaNoWriMo website for interesting blogs and reading up on what peeps had written about. I read the forums I hadn’t earlier. I dedicated an inordinate amount of time to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a major time suck.
WTF am I doing? Not working on my manuscript, that’s for sure.
I wonder if I’m Jonesing for a writing community? The NaNoWriMo was such a heady experience, all the resources, the buddies, the concern. It was like a Writing Woodstock. Am I wanting something similar locally, with warm bodies? I know the late Jack M. Bickham, AKA John Miles, a prominent novelist with over 30 books to his name, was pretty skeptical about writer’s groups and their usefulness, saying,
“…to ask a club member, relative or friend for criticism is mostly a waste of time for at least two reasons: they won’t be honest; they usually don’t know what they’re doing anyway” (Bickham 85).
Ouch, I can understand that from a certain POV, but I’m not sure I’d be there for criticism, which of course begs the questions why go and why the desire?
I guess I’m wishing for the quintessential “Inkling” experience: the pub, the authors, the exchange, the discussion, the affirmation and the ale/coffee/tea. It could be all part of that romantic image many of us, including myself have of what it means to be a writer—characters taking over our story, muses that highjack plot and other myths. Shrug. I’m guessing it’ll soon pass as I cease the avoidance behavior—gaming, cruising, blogging—pick my manuscript and get back to “Two hours or 2k a day.”
There is no magic bean, no silver bullet, no arcane method. It’s all about sitting down, shutting the hell up and pounding out the words.
Who said that? Oh, yeah: me.
Bickham, Jack M. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them). Cincinnati, Writer’s Digest Books: 1992.
Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.