Yes, it’s been two months.
Life is crazy, like it is for anyone else. Blogging was the very first thing to fall by the wayside. #shame.
How did NaNo go for everyone? I didn’t complete, but I know so many people did come out with their 50k, a full novel, or even more than that! NaNo turned out to be a great thing for me, not because of word count or that I made impressive strides toward completing a WIP. None of that happened, actually. I scraped together 20k or so off random short stories and sort-of writing on a problematic story. What happened was the start of a really horrific writing rut.
I couldn’t understand why. I went to the library to try to solve it. Sure, I hadn’t been reading many books or watching many movies lately, maybe that was it. Take in stories, maybe I would be able to put out stories. Right?
No matter how many books I gulped down, it didn’t seem to fix the problem. So I decided to stop trying to make definitive progress. I had a word count goal for the entire year, so I kept slowly chipping at that. All the time spent staring at a laptop screen already during finals season didn’t make for stunning inspiration when I sat down at my computer to…you know…actually, write. So I grabbed a beautiful journal (because beautiful art paired with hardcovers and that book smell. I’m a sucker for it). and started gently poking at another story. Writing is usually a sign that all is well for me, that I’m doing something I love and taking energy from it. If I just stopped cold turkey, I felt out of balance, like something that I needed was missing.
It turned out to be a good choice. Instead of pressuring myself to make a count–since I never count what I write by hand, really–I was just exploring an idea. Nothing had to be perfect, nothing had to be fixed yet. Since I’m at a place with my two WIPs where they both need fixing, it’s easy to blow their problems far out of proportion and see them as nothing more than problematic messes that I’ve tried and failed to fix before. It was good to take a break and get those things back in perspective.
Another problem I noticed during this break of sorts was why I’m writing. I’ve been writing for years and years, but first brushed up against the concept of actual plot points + structuring a story + character arcs and actual things happening to advance a plot in 2015. Since then, it’s been a crazy ride of learning and growing. However, I’m still dragging along two stories that were birthed in 2016. Since I grew them with a very vague knowledge of story, they have a lot of problems. They do. But after all this time and love sunk into them–especially with one being so close to being Good–I don’t want to ditch them.
But, as I settled in on November 1st to try to rewrite my sci-fi story, it seemed all wrong. I was paranoid. Making choices seemed to be the equivalent of walking a tightrope with no safety net beneath. Deep down, I was scared of making wrong plot choices all over. What if I screwed this up again? What if I poured another amount of countless hours into it, and it was still wrong?
I learned that I can’t write that way. I can’t write toward the goal of a perfect story. Of course I still learn, of course I still read writing articles and books and apply what works to my own process, but expecting a first draft to come off my fingertips shining and glimmering because I’m afraid of how it reflects on me as a writer, of not wanting to acknowledge that that ugly thing is mine…I can’t write in fear. I find it pretty ironic to learn that lesson considering that character arc of all my WIPs revolve around fear, in some sense.
I’m happy to start a new year of writing for myself, to create something that I adore even as I know it’s deeply flawed. For me, that has to be the point of writing, not to reach a goal or produce perfection, because I can’t. It cripples me each and every time.