Right, so while I was there to watch my friend’s desperate (and successful) eleventh hour crunch to get his 50,000 words in before the midnight deadline–fuelled and inspired by truly awful ninja movies (I think perhaps other people’s bizarre and reckless storywriting gives you permission let go on your own giant brain dump) I was surprisingly happy with my own abysmal failure in the matter.
I didn’t even come close to the 50k mark, but hey! I doubled my wordcount from the five thousand I started with. Considering that first bit took me two years, and doubling it took me under two weeks I have gained a better understand of my capacity and what a bit of push and focus can do.
However, what I’m really happy about are all the things I learned about myself while I was not even remotely succeeding in the NaNoWriMo goal. Firstly, it took me a bloody long time to learn how to not obsessively focus on ONE THING and to instead live life more like a buffet, having a bit of everything all in one go. So, put in a circumstance where it is kinda my GOAL to obsess and push I found I really didn’t like it much. Actually what I found was by day five I was suffering the effects of over-empathizing with my characters, and in less than ten days I was having nightmares about zombie babies. So yeah, at this point I thought I may want to dial it back a wee bit. Live life a bit more like that buffet.
My dialling back lead to a dead halt as an entirely unrelated existential crisis (or perhaps it was related, that much time with zombies must make you confront the mysteries of life, or something… right?) led to my brain time being dedicated to processing that rather than imagining my beloved characters’ next moves. Then, being run down with a virus left my previously philosophically engaged brain brain-dead, staring at the TV, and drooling (hrm… more parallels to zombies, so apropos!). Anyway, I don’t mean this all to be excuses as to why I failed, so much as I figure I owe a tale of what my month was like, ’cause hey, sometimes your plans get interrupted and you just gotta roll with it. There’s a time to get back on the horse, but there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to get the poop out of your hair before you bother looking for that horse.
So, huzzah! I discovered I now really suck at obsessing, and am mentally flexible about plans and priorities when reality shifts them for me. I still think I’ve learned I can write more, more often than I thought, so will work that into my buffet-like lifestyle. A buffet that will include more non-zombie writing as well, as between the disastrous summer interruptions and my month hiatus to try and write 50,000 words I’m finding I am really missing posting on here–and hey, if I’m having the kind of hey-it’s-not-actually-everybody-else-it-IS-me realizations, there WILL be stuff to post!
This process, by it’s shear contrast alone, has taught me more about my own writing style. Watching my friend, so playfully and irreverently approach his looming deadline with content fodder like: hrm still need 1,800 words… DREAM SEQUENCE, and a serious discussion of whether you could put a music montage into a book or not (I say Tolkien set the standard with pages of elven songs) well his chopmixfill approach really illuminated how I don’t write. I think my relationship to writing is much like any other relationship I may have: deep, evolving, lots of spaces, and a goodly measure of utter bloody silliness. So, wordcounts and deadlines don’t drive me much; what pushes me is a curiosity and desire to connect. So huzzah for owning my style and not feeling pressured by my NaNoWritMo peers. Though I deeply enjoyed and admired the obsessed absurdity of my friend’s heroic push.
What else… oh yes, taking a social media time out while I worked on this (or didn’t work on this) once again reminded me that while I love the community for the connections, I also REALLY like to not have data constantly driving into my brain. ’nuff said. Seriously people, unplug once in a while, your sanity demands it.
Tracking a wordcount does allow me to look in very measurable ways at how much writing I am doing, and as I’ve said before my writing is a good metric of how I am running my life in general. I find fiction in particular requires a lot of blue-sky time to ponder and imagine; my ponder to write ratio is probably 10:1. If I’m not getting that hour of writing in, there’s a good ten hours where I have been too distracted too busy too mentally saturated to fill that hour. And when my life is too many toos it simply isn’t good for me. Spending too much time writing to the point of neglecting other parts of my life isn’t good either. So huzzah for discovering there is a middle ground in that too!
While living that buffet-life is about balance, balance and even are not necessarily the same thing. There’s usually a mostly that comes to the forefront; the thing that is mostly occupying my time, my brain; the need that is the greatest even as I shift from one thing to another to have the variety I need.
This little existential crisis is the final bursting of something that has been building up for several years now. I’ve got that cascading clickclickclick as all sorts of seemingly unrelated struggles finally show how they fit. I’ve got a zombie romance to finish, and I will, in little nibbles off my life-buffet, but right now, to quote a friend: I need to prioritize sorting myself out. So huzzah for putting me first when I need it.
The zombie love should come more easily after that, once I have let go and reconnected with a love more infinite. ….though the love of the undead does have a quality of the eternal about it.