- October 26th, 2015
I didn’t even try to write last year because I thought I had too much on my plate, and this year I have WAY more on my plate, but I want to write anyway. I realize that I only have so many hours in the day, and only so many hours to sleep as well, but staying up and getting stuff done is what a Mama does! So even with the baby, the step kids, the job, and the bullshit, I’m going to attempt to write a novel.
The problem? I’m not inspired. I haven’t felt the inspiration bug bite me in over a year, and no matter what I wave in his direction for bait, he’s still not biting. I don’t even have a character yet. I almost always start with a character and go from there, telling her story as she lives it. There’s something about that too, and that is, I almost always get stuck somewhere and give up. I have already gone onto the NaNoWriMo site and given my novel a title and a small synopsis, but honestly, I have no idea if I’ll use them or not. I looked back at my novel attempts from years past, and they all kinda sound the same. I feel like I’m trying to write the same character over and over, but I keep failing her.
I like the concept that NaNoWriMo is a month of “literary abandon” (I think it says that on the website), so I want to sit down at the stroke of midnight on the 1st and take off writing as if someone just fired the starting pistol and shouted “GO!” I like to put down the first chapter or two that night before closing my eyes as the sun comes over the horizon. The problem there, is that I probably run out of steam I’m an Aries. I like to start projects and never finish them. I have to remind myself that I’m more than just my sun sign. I should be able to finish things. I’ve written a ton of magazine articles, poems, and short stories, and I was able to finish all of those without a struggle. Why should it be any different with a more lengthy piece of fiction?
On a FB post where we’re joking about a nineteen year-old-girl’s views on teen pregnancy, I replied, “a little BDSM never hurt anyone.” Hmmm. That gets me to thinking: maybe I should go ahead and write an erotic novel. My therapist told me a couple months back that I should stop writing things of a “scategorical nature” and focus on something real. That didn’t really help me feel any better about being a smut author, and really just reinforced the part of my brain that says “you should stop writing this, it’s dirty.” I’m not really sure where that part of my brain lives, but I’d kind of like to stab it with a paring knife. It feels like that part of my brain that used to tell me that I wanted to be a Pagan, but Jesus would not be happy with me if I turned away from him. Well, I got over that, and I think I can get over this too.
So do I want to write a dirty novel, or do I want to just stitch in a couple of sex scenes between plot, plot, and more plot? Do I want sec to be integral to the plot, or just an occasional feature that makes the book a little steamy here and there? I’ve never been the kind of person who left sex out of the story, but do I want it to be the main focus? And how? Do I want the main character to get pregnant? Is she a hooker? Tantrist? Run-of-the-mill slut? I need to remember in this case, my approach to using sex in my RP games as well: it’s part of life and nature, it should not be ignored. Do I want to be scorned as some kind of knock-off author rumored to be inspired by the popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray? I’ve never even read it. You’d think it would be right up my alley, but really, I’m very picky about my fiction. I’m a really picky reader in general, honestly. My ego always looks to see if I could have written it better, and if I do, it goes in the pile.
I know I’m an egotistical nut-job. Somehow I manage to both own it, and hide it well.
So it looks like the average word count goal per day is about three pages. I realize that it can vary depending on how many ten-cent words your use versus how many dollar-and-change words that you use, but giving me something more tangible for an estimate really helps. I was thinking I might be able to make this post 1,667+ words to give myself an idea of how long it would really take if I could just take off and write constantly during the time needed to put that much stuff down.
So I think now that I’ve gotten my feelings about it out onto a page, I think I’m going to write a sexy novel. It won’t be dirty, and it won’t have sex as a main plot point, but I will not ignore that sex is there. Sex is part of life, and it creates dynamics amongst characters that I’m not afraid to write about. Tension, jealousy, passion, regret… I think my novel needs those things. I think a lot of my work these past few years has really lacked emotion and passion because a lot of my relationships did, or because I didn’t want someone reading me to figure out that I was writing them into the story. My characters are often based on real people, but they fall flat when I start feeling like I’m betraying someone or telling their secrets in the form of a character.
I have a sweatshirt somewhere that says “be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” It’s so true. If you’ve ever been in my life, even for five minutes, you’ll probably at least end up being an extra somewhere. That was more true when I was writing more, but it’s still kind of true now. I’m going to need a lot of characters for this book I’m working on, and I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime, so I should be okay. I think maybe one strategy I’d like to use is making one character out of multiple, similar people that I’ve met. That way I can use memories or quotes from more than one person to build a more three-dimensional creature that will be less easily identifiable.
Another strategy I like to use, and I plan to use again, is the tarot card strategy. Every time I get stuck beyond repair, I shuffle the deck and pick a card. Whatever the card represents happens to the character. I used this strategy the first year that I attempted NaNoWriMo, and that was the longest portion I wrote before I gave up.
I hate that phrase. “Gave up.” It doesn’t feel like it should be an option. I went through a lot of stuff in my life that I tried really hard to endure even though I didn’t want to, and my father always gave me the option to give up on whatever it was if it didn’t make me happy. I can both thank and scold him for that. I think he’s right in that life shouldn’t be torture and we should strive to do things that will make us happy, but at the same time, some things should really be endured for the greater reward at the end. Sometimes it’s just hard to know at the time if the reward is going to be worth all the hard work, or if it’s just going to be another useless piece of paper in a frame on my wall like my BFA in writing, my Master/Teacher certification in Reiki, my Herbalism certification, and my ministry credentials. My grandmother used to tell me that if you had knowledge, no one can take it away from you. If you have a certification or a degree, nobody can take it away from you. But no one has to pay you for your time and financial investment in that knowledge, either.
It’s tough to live in this world the way it is being the kind of creature that I am. There are all of these great, enlightened theories that I believe in, and yet none of them work in this society. It’s like how people say that you never wish you had worked more when you’re on your death beat reminiscing about your life. I already know that I’m going lay dying wishing that I had spent more time writing and raising my daughter instead of working a day job for a below-livable wage. I feel like I’ll never regret having the knowledge that I’ve acquired in this lifetime, but at the same time, what good did/will it do me? It’s such a tussle of emotions. Can you imagine living in my head?
I handed a friend of ours a stack of pages the other night with my writing on them. I shudder to think about what he will glean from those pages. One pack included an essay entitled “Why I Chose to be Fat,” which I wrote for a women’s magazine a few years ago. I guess I shouldn’t be afraid if I want to write for the world. I wonder what someone with more than a passing interest in psychology thinks of Stephen King’s novels? If you want to live in the spotlight, you can’t be afraid of people throwing rotten tomatoes. Inevitably someone’s going to pick up your book and put it back down for one reason or another. Maybe they don’t like the cover. Maybe they won’t read a book with a female protagonist. Maybe it’s just because they think they can write it better.
***Note: this entry did exceed the daily recommended minimum number of words for NaNoWriMo. Win. :)