Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blogging On The Road

We're on our way home from NJ and I'm taking this opportunity to practice using the swipe keyboard on my phone to write this. Although it doesn't have internet access, I did bring the laptop so I could catch up on Nanowrimo today- I had gotten a day or two behind and had to do a car ride marathon to get back on track, which thankfully worked. Took a different direction in the story than I'd planned, which was kind of daring, but what the hell, this is what Nanowrimo is all about, right?

Don't think, just write, is what I keep telling myself. Reminds me of the line from Bull Durham : "Don't think- it will only hurt the ball club."

Letting my subconscious run wild, I am.

Got this motivational email in my Nanowrimo inbox today - recording some of it here:

"Delivering a novel in a month must be the most extreme challenge in writing.

"I can’t claim to have done it in a month, but I once drafted a novel in six weeks. That draft eventually became my first published book, Incendiary. There are three things you need to know about that. One, that the first draft was unpublishable. Two, that the obsession and the sleep deprivation drove me to a place of dubious mental stability which, in retrospect, we can all laugh about. And three, that I am more proud of those six weeks than of any other period in my life. It changed me. I was working in an attic room in Paris, living on coffee and nerves. I say “living” – in truth I was mutating. I crossed a Rubicon that they will have to drag my cold dead body back across.

"That’s what you’re doing, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. You could have chosen to write a short story this month. You could have redecorated. You could have lounged on your couch and absorbed reality TV, formulating opinions about which of the nice young people ought to be your nation’s brand new idol. Instead you have crossed a line of no return. You have chosen to engage – and in many cases reengage - with a dangerous process that changes you."

"...A novel is a living thing and it resists containment within the structures we erect for it. Even worse, the novel has intelligence and it will inevitably turn against its creator. Think of it like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The problem is that a good character in a novel will reach a point of maturity where he or she is not necessarily biddable.

"...My point is that the job of a novelist is to explore human emotion and motivation. You learn more about your protagonists as you write them. If you are not very often forced by your characters to bin your masterplan, then you are a wooden and a formulaic writer indeed. So, better than having a planned structure is to begin with a character or two, and a theme you intend to explore, and an initial direction you plan to start exploring in. Don’t be alarmed when, on arriving at what you thought was your summit, you realise you’ve climbed up the wrong mountain. That’s why novelists go through drafts – because plans go brilliantly awry."

This is where I was this weekend - watching things take a different turn than I had expected in the story, which will get a lot more interesting and complicated now.  It's very much fun to see where this is headed, and infinitely more fun than watching TV or doing Suduko, which could just as easily have taken up this amount of time this month. 

In other news, the last two days of adding a 2 mile run to my usual kickboxing and karate class routine has left me with aching calves like I couldn't believe. Guess that answers my "baseline" question... So I need to run more, which isn't a bad thing, actually. Days that begin with a run are almost always more productive than days that don't. The time I invest always pays off. Reminder to myself for the day I know will come when I decide I'm too busy, it's too cold, etc.  Don't think - just run. It's better that way.

I'm realizing that "Don't think" was a huge theme for me this month.  Starting with the concept of mushin, both in martial arts and in writing.  I'm my own worst enemy.  Overthinking tends to paralyze me.  Or worse, depress me.

I'm realizing I need to more often get out of my own way and just do things.  I'm a lot happier, more confident and infinitely more productive this way.

Reminder to myself...

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