Blog Post #35
The writer sits in her pajamas before her laptop. The waste bins and laundry hamper over flow with rubbish and dirty clothes. Used dishes litter the kitchen counters. A recently delivered package sits unopened and alone in the middle of the living room floor. Sheets hang over the edges of the bed like waterfalls frozen in fabric.
The sound of computer keys clicking and the hum of the old refrigerator contend for attention in the otherwise silent apartment. Besides the writer rests the hot toddy, no longer quiet so hot, that she has been nursing for the last two hours to help fight off the soreness in her throat from the changing weather. It is the 30th of November. No other soul interrupts her work to ask her why she continues on even at that late hour. Her NaNoWriMo win has been verified nearly three hours ago, the night hangs on the cusp of the next morning, but still she writes.
So let’s get this out of the way because yes, we’re doing this. It’s important. You need to know the irony that is my life at the moment. After a quick review of my actual blog, it seems I need to make a quick update about my word counts for October. Or excuses as the case may be. My best and favorite (and yes, only) sister got married that month. I spent the first weeks of the month preparing as well as almost a full week at her place, and then the weeks after the event, I spent fully focused on sewing the dress for my Halloween costume. That being said, I think having written anything at all is a miracle. I wrote 1,652 words which, according to my notes, derived from the singular blog post I made for that month. At least I was attempting responsibility as far as my blog is concerned.
On the flip side, in November it may have seemed like I had completely forgotten I had a blog at all. But as far as November word counts are concerned, however, I kicked all that there was to kick and the kitchen sink too. So there. After double checking my personal word counter against what I had verified at the NaNo website, I realized I had forgotten to enter a day in my own logs. I really, really hope that hasn’t happened to me throughout the year. At any rate, I’m certain you’re all just shouting “get on with it!” so on with it I shall get.
For the month of November I wrote 52,239 words. I wrote for my 50k for NaNo, yes, but I also worked on a few outlines and one wonderful day, well over a thousand on my fun apothecary side fiction. The recommended monthly quota on my yearly word counter for November is 16,439. Not only did I surpass that, but I managed to write 318% of my monthly goal.
As initially predicted at the beginning of the year, November’s completed word counts have made up one quarter of my entire year’s goals. I was mentally prepared for NaNo, because I’d faced it last year and already had the experience to know what I was getting myself into. However, looking over my word count charts, I have noticed, balked at, and am now weeping at one tiny, little hitch in my word count schemes for the year.
Up until the month of November, I have been sitting at around half my yearly goals. For those of you who math well, you’ve already figured out why this is a problem. For those of you who don’t math, let me tell you what my word tracker just told me. I have 48,227 words to write before the 2016 comes to a close to hit my own self-imposed mark of 200,000 words for the year. Do you know that other number 48, 227 is close too?
So, yes, I have in fact done what I shouldn’t have done at all because I was lazy at the beginning part of the year. I have through some stroke of twisted fate set myself up for a second NaNo. I obviously don’t need sleep until 2017. A SECOND NaNo month. Directly after the first. During the holiday season. How did I let it come to this?
The Reading Front
You’d think that with how much writing I’ve done, I would be able to say that I haven’t done any reading at all. And it was true of November, but as I spent a good portion of October traveling (some by train) I had time to read here and there. I’ve spent a lot of time reading motivational quotes on Twitter as well as a writing blog post here and there. And while that’s good for me as a writer, it doesn’t do much to develop my mind as a reader. I’ve been failing on that front a lot this past year, so I think I’m going to attempt to make it part of my focus next year, along with maybe finishing edits and publishing a novella.
Have I mentioned I have the coolest friends ever?
The Last Wish
Okay, that’s not to derail this parade, there is a point. I have friends who will literally buy me a book and have it shipped to me in the middle of the year for no other reason than I need another book in my life. Which is how I ended up reading The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. I enjoyed the method of the telling, a frame story with stories in between that are presented as flashbacks. I always love when authors present timeline in unusual ways. I’m always curious to watch how that writing structure pays off. Each of the flashbacks like to tell of non-binary good and evil choices and actions. I enjoyed that it wasn’t so clear cut good and evil, but more of everyday people who are trying to make do in world that just happens to having magic and strange creatures. I can see how the gray morality, the fantasy setting, and the multiple individual quests lead to it being reshaped into an role playing video game.
Additionally as my former roommate and all of you dear readers know (I hope), I’m more than slightly obsessed with fairy tales and folk lore. Addiction might be a better term. This book certainly delivers on that account. Each individual flashback featured a new type of creature and mythology that the Witcher encounters in his work, mostly based on Slavic lore. I’ve never spent much time in Slavic lore, so I find all these creatures and details endlessly fascinating, and the turns each short takes. But there is always a downside to every story, and mine comes at the existence of the main character himself.
I find Geralt to be the clichéd brooding, hero who sleeps with any interested woman and who operates with his own set of ethics that no one else seems to even grasp the idea of. The world is intense and strange, but as a character, Geralt spends almost his entire time disconnectedly observing all, rich in deduction yet removed from feeling. It distanced me as a reader from this world rather than aiding me in feeling submerged in that reality, which could have been the goal to just make Geralt feel jaded. I haven’t quite finished the book, so maybe that will change. Maybe that sense of distance is also because I’m reading a translated version rather than in its original Polish.
On my Second NaNoWriMo Win
There are a lot of things that you loose with experience. You lose that anxiety and nervousness that spike right before you begin a brand new project or explore unknown territory. Then, there are the things you gain with experience. You know the work load, you know how the programs work, where to go to for support. There are things that you attempt now that you have experience. Tweeting about the highs and lows of the entire NaNo project gave me a place to ‘check in’ when I took breaks between putting my fingers to the keys. There are things that can still take you by surprise even though you have experience such as the outpouring of encouragement on Twitter on the final night when I stood just over 6,000 words away from the win as well as the kick ass coupon for a writing program I intended to buy in January anyway!
It felt like in that moment, that I had spent the entirety of this year fumbling forward as a writer, cutting out what wouldn’t help push me toward my goals while drawing in as well as seeking out anything and everything that would get me to that ‘destination’. For that one moment after I validated that win, it felt like the culmination of this years’ work: making me the writer version of me that I want to be. I still don’t feel like I am a true writer yet because I can’t call it my day job yet, but at least I feel like I’ve done enough to prove to the Universe that this is in fact what I want, and having people online to cheer me on and that awesome coupon felt like the Universe was trying to help me out for a change. That being said, there is always something to be learned for this past month.
Despite having previous experience with NaNo, mistakes were still made. I didn’t write every single chance I got, instead putting it off time and again because there were other more important things to be done, such as attending the opening night of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and finally throwing the super awesome Great Gatsby themed party for my writing buddy Jessica B that I, along with another friend of ours, had been planning for like five months.
So six days away from the 30th, I had only 15,066 words. For those of us who can’t math, I used a calculator for us. I was 34, 934 words away from the 50,000 word goal. I had only six days to cross that distance. Of those days, I only had one day off. For some reason, it never occurred to me to admit that it couldn’t be done, that I should just let go of the win this year and move on with life. For the half a second I pondered not winning, I literally felt sick to my stomach. That feeling motivated me. It told me how much I loathed the idea of not sticking to one of my writing goals for this year. It told me how much I had invested in the writer I want to be.
Knowing I had off Thanksgiving Day, I stayed up late the night before it and scribbled what I could. It brought my totals up to 16,680. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. So when Thanksgiving Day, my last full day off before the 30th came, I had only one mission when I woke up. I made myself a quick breakfast, and I let go of anything that wasn’t writing. I didn’t shower. I didn’t make the bed. I ignored the dishes and the laundry. I only cooked because I had to in order to eat. In that day, I began to climb out of the hole I had fallen into. I wrote over 10,000 words in the course of a single day because I absolutely refused to give up on my writing.
The rest of the week, I gave up on my second favorite thing in the world to cross the span between 26, 915 words and 50,000. I gave up sleep. I find it so odd that in order to make real the stories given to me in dreams, I have to abandon sleep, the giver of those dreams. Functioning on about five or six hours’ worth of sleep most of those nights (and only three hours on one particularly bad night), I pressed through my day jobs and long hours of writing that followed. On each of my final three days of this month, I typed up around 7,000 words a day to meet my goal.
I feel a tremendous weight lifted from my mind knowing with certainty that I have been keeping my promises to myself as best I can with my writing. I have not given up, nor will I ever give up, on this. There is a question I am continuously attempting to find new answers for to add to one of my most dearly held lists. Some of you might remember the question I posed in this blog post, or this one, or this. The question I am constantly searching for as a writer is all the reasons I write, the things that motivate me and drive me to push me past just making this a creative outlet into making it my way of life. So far I have put together a fairly interesting list.
Having survived my second NaNoWriMo, I can say without reserve, that I write to hold myself accountable to my younger self. I promised myself that I would become a writer. Personally, I have issues with being distracted, lazy, unfocused, unorganized, and easily bored as well as being unmotivated. I fight these pieces of myself every day to try and make myself the best person I can be. I also have this interesting opposite facet that if I need to do anything on someone else’s behalf, I am the most intensely focused, motivated, organized, inspiring, upbeat, on-task multitasker you could ever hope for. As long as it is for someone else.
Back in this post, I realized that maybe I shouldn’t always just think of myself in the here and now, but I should think about me as I used to be, that little girl. What would she think to meet the person she had become? Would I meet the expectations of my younger self? Would she look at the person and I am and want to be anyone else but the me that I am now?
I write so I do not let her down. I don’t want to disappoint the child in me who believed and hoped in the writer I would become. I write for her, so that even if she will never know it, I know that in her future, she writes.
Love and Lightning,
M. L. Trumbull
P.S. If you recall from last year, putting off laundry was a thing that happened during NaNo. At least this year when I finally got to it, it was only three, one of which was the new sheets I ordered on Black Friday.