Friday, 25 November 2016
I'm Trying, Though
“Absurd Word Nerd, where was the last update?”
At least that's what I imagined you would be thinking, because the last update is very clearly missing. So where is it? I'll tell you where it is, it's in a black hole, the aether of unsaved Word Documents.
When I write the novel that I'm working on, I'm doing so on Google Docs. I am incredibly fond of Google Docs not just because it's available everywhere I go (and not just because I can use it to write alongside my beloved and we write stories together) but also because it means that I can just write and not have to worry about saving the document. See Google Docs has an amazing feature whereby it just saves everything you do and sends it to the database. I'm not sure if it's the the cloud or the server, but either way, it will save it, it's locked down. The way I write these blog posts, I tend to do it just on blogger - As much as I may be doing this blog draught on Google Docs - because it's just little updates and I didn't want to put too much effort into them. I figure sit down throw it on the page, send it out, get back to writing. That worked really well the first few times but last time it didn't save. For that reason I figured I'd give you a nice in depth explanation as to what I'm up to right now when it comes to writing. I have written over 20,000 words. Yes that's a two and yes that's four zeros. I'm pretty hyped about that, pretty excited, it means I'm approaching the halfway mark. Whilst it's only 5 more days till the end of nanowrimo proper, I'm still excited I'm not going to stop after nanowrimo I'm going to get this thing written I am going to get this thing published and hopefully you people will be able to enjoy the story I've been working on for so long.
And I'm also excited to get back into other projects I like. Listen, I like writing this story. I'm so used to creating short stories - in fact in the beginning, I was wondering how I get to create something longer and I'm actually surprised by the way that my brain has composed the story which needs to be longer - when I write Duke Forever those stories are 9000 words, cut and paste send it out and they always that long that's how long they are. I can't stop them being that long, it's how they are. It's not something I do artificially, it's how the stories are, if I try to make them longer or shorter they wouldn't feel like Duke Forever stories they wouldn't feel right.
But this story is constructed in a way much more akin to a mystery there's this piece here, that piece there, slowly building it up and putting the pieces together. It's different from writing a short-instalment, episodic series. Another one of the things that I have already spoken about struggling with are videos and things that I put on the background to help. I am still searching for some simple videos just to get you on track, but if you're looking for something yourself, I've discovered the amazing Jenna Moreci. She's an author; she's a vlogger and her videos are invaluable if you're feeling unsure, you have questions about writing or you're just a little blank. If your mind isn't in the writing game, whenever she does vlogs her mind is in the right zone so I found that really useful for getting myself right back on track, listening to her tell me that you absolutely need to keep going. One of the other things I discovered that reinvigorated my enjoyment of writing was a scene I wrote that just came out of nowhere. See you when I plotted this story I had an idea of the main character meeting somebody who knew about aliens and I thought she would just go to their house, have a chat and leave knowing more, but not everything they wanted to know. But when I wrote that thing, I wanted to shake things up a bit. I didn't want to just send her to somebody's house because that felt a bit pedestrian and contrived, who would invite a stranger inside if you just rocked up at their house, let alone invite her inside and talk? So instead I sent her to a cafe and there she met the woman she was looking for and the way I wrote her, this woman was quite resistant.
I mean, if you know that aliens exist I imagine you may be the kind of person who screams at politicians while wearing tinfoil, or wears those sandwich board things saying: The End is Nigh. But I didn't want that, that seems to crack the suspension of disbelief (to me at least).
And my solution was to have the woman be in denial, so she knew a lot, but she assumed it was all just a figment of her imagination or something. But you see, almost accidently, this created a tension. A drama I hadn't prepared for, wherein the main character was learning and questioning this poor woman, at the same time as the woman was trying to help the main character come to terms with the fact that aliens don't exist (even though there was one standing right outside the cafe). It was actually quite intense writing, because the woman at first was resistant and then she was opening up to the main character - not to tell her what she wanted to know, but this woman was trying to convince herself that she has nothing to fear. Meanwhile the main character knows for a fact that everything that she doesn't want to be true is. The main character finds aliens cool and friendly, but this woman was terrified of the prospect either that she'd met someone just as deluded as her, or that she'd met someone to tell her that all of her delusions and fears were real.
Okay . . . maybe I'm just tooting my own horn, maybe this isn't the amazing thing that I imagine it to be. But, nonetheless this opened my eyes to why this is not only a story I want to write, but one that I have to.
See the main reason why I didn't want to do NaNoWriMo in the first place, why I wrote that blog post about why wasn't a fan of it, was because I always received it as incredibly shame-driven. You give yourself a month, 30 days with a large quota and you say "I need to finish this by the deadline if I want to call myself a writer"; If you start to falter from that deadline, what keeps you moving forward is the thought of "Ugh, I suck at this, I need to exceed what I failed at before". And why is it 'Na' NoWriMo? Why is it National? It's because you're supposed to compare yourself to everyone else - there's meant to be winners in this race. You're supposed to blame yourself for not being as good as the other writers when you can't keep up, you have other people to look at and show you "they can do it", so there's no excuse to be one of the losers. Yes, I know this may seem extreme, but it's true more often than you'd believe. In fact my girlfriend offered to do NaNoWriMo with me, but she has been struggling to get a story started even now. My Beloved is a great writer, but the pressure of NaNoWriMo is actually holding her back. I feel like there is a tendency to capitulate this mindset of "You suck. Do better, because NaNoWriMo". Just use me, for example - the reason why I restarted my NaNoWriMo journey was because I felt like I could do better and I was failing at writing, and I didn't want to keep on failing. It's negative reinforcement. But, what made this is successful journey, to me, is the fact that it's not so much shame as it is growth. I'm not comparing myself to other writers, I'm comparing myself to myself. The reason I have a quota is because I know that I can write that much, I've done it before. Hell, I started this journey right after Halloween Countdown. There's a lot more than 2,000 words in some of those posts, yet I did those on time. So, when I failed, it wasn't because I suck - I can't suck, the 'winner' that I'm comparing myself to is me. So, I am awesome, I'm just not achieving what I am capable of, I am not reaching my potential. And I have found this to be a fun challenge.
It's been said before that one of the driving factors of creativity is boundaries. Telling you, "I bet you can't kick this goal blindfolded"? That's a challenge that forces you to test your skills, and push further. So, telling someone "Create a story, but you can only tell it with this paper and this pen and in a way that other people can understand" - that's creativity. That's what writing is. And saying that you have to write a story in a month? This deadline, I find it inspiring. At the end of the day, it's not perfect. I started again because I realized that the kind of stories that I write, the complicated, heavily researched, plot-driven stories . . . I couldn't do that, because this timeframe wasn't long enough to make the conflict complex. I've created a backstory that makes this story conducive to the kind of style of writing that I love, but I am definitely not going to write my planned novels this way. No, NaNoWriMo is an amazing challenge, but it's not the same thing as regular writing, just as how running a marathon for exercise is not the same as going for a jog to exercise. Just because I challenge myself like this, doesn't mean that I can do my best work this way, and it's not something you can do all the time. It's just a sometimes thing. It seems like I will half-complete this novel by the 30th of November, and I will complete it before the end of January. For my next few stories, I will do something a little slower, a little less labour intensive.
I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and don't get me wrong, I think I might just try NaNoWriMo again next year. After all, just like the marathon runner . . . I want to beat my best time. Keep up the writing, and I'll see you in the last update.