Thursday, November 22, 2012

Writing Hell week 3

The Kahunas of Lobster Cove
So today is Thanksgiving.

It is also the end of the third week of Nanowrimo 2012.
What is this Nanowrimo of which you speak? It is National Novel Writing Month, a godless endeavor where thousands of people attempt to write 50,000+ words of a novel in 30 days while the rest of the nation honors veterans, gives thanks for our freedom, honors the misrepresented history of our country's discovery, helps our fellow man through whatever a bitterness Mother Earth can dish out, and, let's not forget participates in the contact sport called Black Friday. Nanowrimo is a narcissistic practice of the Literati and I am a participant. You're welcome.

As if reaching 50,000 words wasn't enough, I decided to double the word total. Trust me, in doing so I am nothing close to the heroes that inhabit the pages I am churning out. I decided to include previous pages that I have been conveniently rewritten to fit the changes in the story's plotline that arose while cranking out 2,000-3,000 words a day. My three week total is 70,763 words HOWEVER the new-page total is only a mere 34,498. There are only 9 days left. For me to reach the 50,000 words minimum and a be an honest-to-God Nanowrimo Winner I need to crank out 1,723 a day. This is achievable since I have been averaging 2000 new words per day. I thought I was writing not doing math (which I was NEVER good at, thus, writing... duh!)

Someone who became a master by twisting their legs into pretzels once said "Its not the destination its the journey." (humble apologies to writing guru, Natalie Goldberg,author of Writing Down the Bones and to anyone else who is flexible enough to do the downward pretzel and have that feed their writing.) Writing is its own transcendental discipline. Self-imposed goals such as Nanowrimo force the writer to experience the insights of the process. Its like the writer's mantra. "Writing is writing, so write" Of course Nanowrimo does ignore the second tenant of a writer's philosophy, "Writing is Rewriting" but I digress.

I did an exercise with my creative writing students where they came had to come up with affirmations on writing and the creative process. We posted them in our writing space to inspire us each day we approached a blank page. I started them off with this little chestnut; "Write right, right?" then followed it with "Write, write, write!" Nanowrimo could care less about the first phrase but it burns incense at the alter of the second. Enough said.

Its Thanksgiving so here's my obligatory short list of grateful shout-outs:

Family. Having a creative in the family must be a lot like Michael Jackson's Never-land. While it initially sounds like a really fun idea to have an amusement park in your backyard, it's still kinda weird to everyone else. Thanks for your patience.
Friends. They say you can count your true friends on one hand. I have been blessed in my life to the extent that I'd need to be the Indian goddess Shiva to count them all.
Beasts. Pallet, the miracle cat of Borders. You are here for me, and I for you. Without sounding like a cat lady, let me say you are a constant reminder of just how interdependent we are.
Children. The ones I teach, the ones who decorate my neighborhood with inspiration and ears eager for a story, and my newborn niece, little Lotti. May I  always see the world through your fresh eyes.
Past. Writers don't have bad times, they gain material. One of my mother's favorite phrases was, "This, too will pass." Whether it is good times or bad, her words hold true. It is all the more reason to write, as she did in her day, and I in my own twisted way, do now.
Muse. The miracle of a story on a page will never cease to amaze me. Being a conduit to bringing a tale to life is forever a humbling experience. It is there we do our best work.

With 1,700 words a day in 9 more days it feels appropriate to close with the beginning of the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield that my Dad would recite from his chair. (I have even included an excerpt of it in my latest novel.) Thanks Dad for that. It was probably those magical moments listening to him pull words out of thin air and the patient hours my sister read to me that still puts me in the writing chair day after day. 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.  

Thank you all for being my ship as I shoot for the stars.

-S.E. Toon

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