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Writing about NaNo for NaBlo

November 5, 2009
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When I was a kid, I was a Writer.  In 4th grade, we were told we had to put our vocab words into sentences, and I don’t know if the assignment was to put them into blocks so that they read like a story, or if I just did that because I enjoyed it so much, but it was a revelation to me: I WAS A WRITER!  I LOVED WRITING!  I didn’t stop writing for something like ten years straight.

Everyone knew I was a Writer.  My mom even offered me the opportunity to go to a private school with a writing program.  I wanted to, but I was afraid of not knowing anyone and leaving my friends.  It was probably the wrong choice, but I decided to go to public school.

By the time I got to college, I was a total writing snob.  I turned my nose up at Composition.  Didn’t they know I was a Writer of Fiction?

I actually ended up failing out of college due to laziness, snobbery, being burned out on school in general, and relationship ~*drama*~.  (My major was NOT writing, because that seemed terribly impractical to me; plus, who could teach me anything about writing?  I WROTE ALL THE TIME.  Never mind that I didn’t finish anything…)  I then met the man I was going to marry and had a kid with him, and I slowly but surely stopped writing.  Don’t think the new invention of the “internet” wasn’t a part of that.  From the time I was sixteen on (I went to college at seventeen), my amount of time on the computer NOT writing steadily rose.

After that, I slowly but surely became phobic about writing.  I know that in 2001-ish, I didn’t have internet and wrote a novella about a demon falling in love with a human.  Then, inspired by this show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I’d just started watching, I wrote the bare bones of a novel.  Beginning to end, actual length and content, for what felt like the first time ever.

I was a writer again!  Except now I had these ridiculous standards for myself.  I was going to edit and expand the book, except then the hard drive crashed and all I had was a version on a disk that had been written on a program that was not available in my next computer.  When I opened the thing again, all the formatting was lost.  What also got lost was my motivation to edit the story.

I don’t know how between then and now I got phobic about writing fiction.  I think part of it is that I started dating someone who’d gone to school for screenwriting and I was starting to realize that everything I wrote was pretty much plotless (rather, it was about couples getting together and breaking up; I sure love me some characters) and I started to feel highly critical of myself without even writing a word.  I was also growing more aware of how writers were writing, and I felt like I couldn’t connect to the process.  I thought about taking writing courses at school, but I wanted to get through school fast and learning everything else in the world was making me feel good about myself, so I focused on my degree (English, then literature, and now library science) and, when I had slots free, music (because that’s another place where I got tripped up but a story too long for this post).

About a year or so ago, a friend of mine paid for us to take one of those internet writing courses, because we’d taken a writing course together in high school.  I half-assed my way through it, although I liked some of what I did, and my friend never did anything at all because he got busy with school.  Oh well, it was his money.  But it reminded me that I like to write more than just papers and journal/blog stuff.  Still, it lit no fire within me–at least one that didn’t die right away.

So last week we thought we’d be quarantined for at least another week because of the flu, but my daughter bounced right back and even went to school again this week.  (Was it actually swine flu?  Who knows?  They don’t even test unless they have to.)  I decided on the 31st to sign up for NaNoWriMo.

Generally, I avoid it like the plague.  In part it’s because November is a ridiculously busy month for students.  In part it’s because I like to avoid communities of people who are like I was once: writing snobs.  On top of that, I cannot help but mock fan fiction and have an underlying hatred for it, because I think in some cases it stops good writers from being original, and it keeps fan writers from trying to make it in the business.  (Who needs to tough out validation from Hollywood when you can get it in droves from your peers?)  I know that this is a closed-minded and somewhat-unfounded opinion, especially in connection with NaNo, but I just read something on Livejournal where this girl petitioned a natural childbirth community to help her with a Transformers fan fic, and I just…something dies inside of me every time, I swear.

But yeah, I figured I’d have a lot of time, and if there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s challenging myself to the point of hating myself.  I’m good with goals.  I did well with NaBlo.  Why not write with NaNo?  Sure, I get phobic about writing, but during the two or three periods of the past couple years where I have sat down and written, I’ve had a good time, even if I’ve gained no real lasting satisfaction.  (Cuz I haven’t FINISHED anything.)

I went in with no idea of what I was going to do, except that I wanted to maybe write a superhero romance that’s less campy than Estep’s Bigtime novels.  (I love Estep, but I hate camp.  It’s a delicate balance for me.  I’m excited to check out her next series.)  I then chose a name for my character, and started writing.

There is NOTHING about what I’ve written so far that’s interesting or plot-driven or coherent, but I’m having a good time.  A lot of my validation isn’t coming from the writing itself, but how impressed people have been with my output: I write about 500 words every fifteen minutes or so, and then I write in chunks of 20-30 minutes using Write or Die.  Other people will probably have a book when they’re done; I’ll have a hodge-podge of, if I make it, 50K words.  But AFTER November I can deal with that, if I want to.

I frontloaded my schoolwork for the week so I’ve been keeping up well.  I write a to-do list, IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, usually of about 10 things, and I tend to get to about 6 every day, which is usually NaNo.  Oops, I almost forgot I have something to do for school but I have until about 3:30 to work, because my daughter’s off for the NJEA convention and I’m not seeing the boyfriend until after I drop her off with her grandmother and great-grandmother.  (Twelve = the age of “Can I go to Granny’s?  They have cable AND let me use the internet without hovering.”  SIGH.)  So that gives me about six hours to do what’ll probably be three hours of work, and I’m sure the bf and I will write together later.  He’s not officially doing NaNo, but he’s using me to keep up with his own writing, which is also superhero stuff, but without the romance.  Bor-ing. 😀

So I guess what this boils down to is: So far, so good.  I missed a night due to feeling sick, but my output is such that losing one night doesn’t matter.  I’m still over 6667 or wherever one “should” be by now to keep the pace up.

I’m excited to find out whether I finish, and what’s going on with the story.  Sometimes you write them, and sometimes they write you.  Actually, I’ve generally finished the latter and almost never the former, so we’ll see if that sticks here.

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