Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo '14: A Fly in the Ointment—Recapping Week 1



The first week of National Novel Writing Month is drawing to a close, and I'm not going to lie—it's been a rough one. After what felt like a terrific start at the stroke of midnight November 1st, I experienced a few days of painful floundering. Thankfully, I have gotten some writing done—this isn't going to be a repeat of 2012's colossal failure—but I have yet to catch up to the cumulative total of daily goals:

7620 words written so far; Day 7's goal—11666
I know NaNoWriMo is meant to be an exercise in discipline, that it's not about the story or its quality so much as putting in the hours, but I find it exceedingly difficult to throw myself into work I don't fully believe in. And while I do believe in the idea behind this year's novel, the writing has been dreadfully stilted. There's no art in it, no color or flavor. I think this may speak to a larger issue, stemming from the challenges I've faced over the past several months. I've often said that I would consider my life a success, regardless of outcome, so long as it could be said I lived my life artfully. Unfortunately, it's become increasingly obvious that I've lost something of that zeal. To put it in clinical terms, I believe I'm suffering from a blunted affect, a diminished experience and expressiveness of emotion; to put it in simple terms, I am depressed, and it's killing my literary mojo. 

...which might just be fitting for a novel named after a city in Hell.

This doesn't mean this year's WriMo effort is in jeopardy, at least not yet. During the few productive bursts of writing I've managed to put forth, I've found it easy enough to get about 2k words down each hour. This means it should only take two hours to catch up, and so there's little anxiety to speak of—at least for today. As the month progresses, I do worry that this sense of discouragement over the "flat" nature of my writing will increase, slowing my efforts, leading to days like those first few, in which I wrote nothing at all. The easiest solution is to ensure that doesn't happen, to continue chopping away steadily, however I might feel about the work I'm doing. I'll still be left contending with the overall problem, but that's nothing new, especially not this year.

On the positive side of things, I have been having a terrific time during these productive fits. It took a few days, and setting up a few time-honored traditions, but it finally feels like a proper NaNoWriMo. All it took was a few word sprints on Twitter and their accompanying shenanigans, a pot of Earl Grey tea, and a few boxes of Fruit Delights—a seasonally available confection comparable to Turkish Delight, an absolute favorite of mine and essential to my Novembers. 

In addition to these WriMo rituals, I added a first for me—the purchase of this year's participants' shirt, "The Magic Equation":

Picture from the National Novel Writing Month Donation Station & Store, courtesy of The Office of Letters and Light
I also pre-ordered my winner's shirt, and there's no way I'll allow myself to own that without having earned it. I'm in this for the long haul, even if it winds up feeling longer than I expected. Week One hasn't been a bust, and the month won't be either. 

Part of what I love about writing is how much I learn about myself in the process. It's from this recent spate of work that I learned the extent of these recent struggles of mine, and hopefully this new-found awareness will be the first step in resolving matters. That would, in turn, help me improve my writing. As writing and my life feed into each other this way, I continue to grow, and I really can't be depressed by that at all. The writing may be slow and, at times, painfully dull, but it's for a good cause. I'll keep writing the good write, and hope anyone else out there who might be struggling will do the same. 

Drink Tea and Carry On


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