Sunday, November 7, 2010


NaNoWriMo is, so far, a success. At least in terms of word count. Competing against Hope has gotten my competitive side activated, and it's surprising, knowing how apathetic a person I can sometimes be when it comes to winning, that with some things I really can't stand to lose.

But it's not a success in terms of... quality. I know they say, "Just write and don't care if it's crappy." And that's a nice sentiment. But what I've found in past experience is that you need both sides of the coin: freedom to make mistakes, but also something to live up to, a high standard that you set for yourself. If the bar is resting on the ground, there's no need to try a high jump. You can just step over it like everybody else.

But the reasonable part of my brain argues that NaNoWriMo isn't really about making art. It's about community, it's about coming together and creating something. It's about freeing up your mind and banishing your inner censors and just letting story flow out. It's about the mess that lives inside of us, and allowing it to creep out in words as narrative.

Some people will manage to make NaNoWriMo art, but my head is boxing me in here. I have this silly theory that writing is like structure - if your foundation is wobbly, you've got nowhere to build up from. It'll all come crashing down around your ankles before you're really off the ground. I hate my story right now, because I don't believe in any of my characters, I hate the situations, I don't think it does a good job of telling the story that's already there, the one that appeared in my head. It's like Michelangelo sees the angel in the block of stone, but instead of carving to free it, he settles for a chubby, misshapen cupid instead.

I'm writing this when I should be writing that. Hope is over a thousand words ahead of me, and I really can't afford to let her get too much of a lead or I'll lose her... lose any hope of being able to drive myself to finish it.

Today I had a breakthrough for the real story I want to tell, the one that I would never subject to the NaNoWriMo treatment. I know now that two of my hugest stories are really one story... connected in an unlikely way. And their characters - seemingly complete opposites - are in a way different facets of me. Anna, young, impulsive, golden, longing for adventure and fun, knowing there's a huge world out there and not willing to rest until she's gone out and seen some of it. Joan, also young, but cautious. Almost to the point of being fearful. She is reluctant to take risks because harm could come of it, and yet until she is willing to she'll never truly live. I was Anna, and now I'm Joan. And I wish I could tell you what happened to them both, because then you'd understand a little bit why this realization gives me great joy and yet also breaks my heart.

But no. Instead I must return to this dead carcass of a story I'm attaching spare limbs to in a sad attempt to bring the monstrous, shambling thing to some semblance of life. Halloween is over and done with, so why do I feel like Dr. Frankenstein? And, like what happened to him, will my creation break free from me and wreak havoc in the world?

I hope not. Only time will tell.

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