A month of many words, of obsession, and of triumph.
Not that I’m terribly so under normal circumstances, but during this past November I was not very socially active. I wasn’t active much in many respects, actually, except with regards to writing. After being told about National Novel Writing Month by a fellow author in a lovely writer’s retreat I attended this Autumn, I decided that I could handle the challenge, that it would be a great way to break out of my creative rut and help bring to life the content I so much wanted to see the light of day.
So… did it work? Did the NaNoWriMo challenge, to write fifty thousand words in a month, make me or break me?
Well, I won. 50089 words later. Though “won” in this context doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in sports or traditional competitions. My fellow authors and I were not trying to one up each other, in fact, we spent as much time advising and uplifting each other as anything aside from the writing itself. I view “winning” this challenge as not me one-upping anyone else, or trying to even compete with anyone, really. It was a personal challenge, to set aside the nonsense that distracts me from writing, to focus on my craft and prove to me that I can do it.
I did, and in the process learned some things about myself, not all of which are pleasant. I’m not really a very disciplined writer, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. I still haven’t put myself on any kind of set writing schedule, which I know I should. I still let myself get distracted by own personal problems and miseries, spending too many November nights wallowing in grief and self-pity instead of simply just writing. The month of November taught me many lessons about myself and what I need to improve on.
Eventually, the work that I chose for NaNo, the third After Terra novel, became an expression of my own despair and morose self-pity. That’s certainly not what the book is about, but the parallels between my life and that of my protagonist are unintentionally striking. Through exploring what these fictional people are going through and the psychological battles they are enduring, I was able to find some catharsis for myself, fleeting as that could sometimes be. If you’ve never written so much in a month, I don’t know if I properly can describe the feeling of emptying yourself out onto the page, as if the words were your lifeblood and you never knew up until then how much blood you had to give. I think anyone who aspires to be a writer, especially a novelist, needs to try this challenge at least once.
When I reached my word count goal on the last day of November, I did celebrate. I played some fanfare. But I also wept. Partly from stress release, due to my mind and body finally being able to let go of thinking about the book, able to relax knowing that I had met the challenge I set for myself. But there was some of it that was self-pity, realizing that without this overarching life goal, I was again faced directly with my own loneliness and the bitter fallout of losing someone I care about deeply.
So now, I have given myself a new set of goals to focus on, to hopefully channel the dark and gloomy energies within me into more creative forces. After Terra is still a young body of work with much more to come in that series; the first book within it that I published was but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. And with the re-branding of myself as an author and the changes you’ll see coming to this blog page over the next few days, I come into the final month of 2016 with some hope for finding peace through my creative endeavors.