Friday, October 29, 2010

Writing Again

Thinking this through:

50,000 words is the NaNoWriMo goal.

That boils down to 1,667 words per day. According to the NaNoWriMo manual, No Plot? No Problem! this could be accomplished in 90-120 minutes per day.

Can I find that much time in my day to sit and write?

Absolutely. No problem.

The hour or two per day of writing isn't the challenge.

The hard part for me is the thinking about it, the daydreaming, the imagining - that needs to take place when I'm not writing, so that I have something to write about when I sit down. Finding the mental and emotional space I need to ruminate over my characters, my story, a particular scene - when I'm driving, doing housework, supervising schoolwork, working out - is just so darn difficult when I'm constantly being interrupted by questions, requests and the general demands for my attention that go along with being together all day with my kids. It's easier to avoid thinking about it completely than to try to think about it and constantly feel thwarted.

When I think back to the time I really felt like I was a Writer - somewhere around middle school - I remember being constantly lost in creative daydreaming, and really enjoying my imagination and the stories and sceanarios it came up with. Of course, I was sitting in class all day, bored out of my skull, with nothing to do but make up great stories and tweak them. What if my character did this? What might happen next? How would the conversation go? What else could happen? Maybe I'll have this happen, and then...

No such long stretches of uninterrupted daydreaming time to be found now. No standing in the shallow end, wiggling my toes in the water, testing it out, splashing a little here and there. If I want to ponder a scene, I need to be able to dive in and then dive back out at a moment's notice. And immediately find my spot when I hit the water again.

A notebook would probably help.

I bought one last year, but as soon as I started writing anything substantial in it, I became paranoid that someone would read it. You can password protect a computer file, but it's a bit harder to maintain privacy when working on paper.

I'm also no good at compartmentalizing. When something is on my mind, it's pervasive. And I kind of like it that way, even if it does make it harder to concentrate on what I'm supposed to be concentrating on much of the time. Focus is a skill I still work on - especially during martial arts, where my mind really does need to be completely on what I'm doing - but my lack of focus is also something I accept (and often enjoy) about myself. There's a happy medium between being completely detached from anything not directly in your line of vision and being downright obsessive and living in your thoughts. I may gravitate toward the latter, but that's part of what makes me... me.

In any case, I don't want to let the fact that I can't sit and daydream for hours on end about my story stop me from even trying to write it.

I love this quote - an answer to the question of why artists create:

"If there's a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn't exist in the world around you, at least not in the form you envision, then you create it so you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn't have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more shallow, predictable way. And that's it. That's all an artist does." - Ellen Cherry Charles in Skinny Legs and All

I get that. I like writing stuff down, just to see it written down - even if I'm the only one reading and enjoying it. I like tinkering with it - changing a word or two, adding or deleting a section, taking a conversation in a different direction. It's satisfying.

I'm looking forward to giving it another go. I'll try to find some time this weekend to daydream. It will be nice to open those dusty rooms in my brain, let some light in, and sweep out some of the cobwebs. My NaNoWriMo product might be crap, but those deep recesses of my brain will still benefit.

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