NaNoWriMo status update

I’m 7 days into NaNoWriMo, and I’m having a great time. I’m already halfway to 50k, but I’m not patting myself on the back too hard for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, this is fanfic; I haven’t had to go through the process of creating too many new characters, or building a world, or a backstory. A lot of the heavy lifting was done by someone else before I started writing, and I have the luxury of playing with what’s already there. Fanfic is easymode.

Second, since this piece follows my previous fic, I was already in the practice of writing or editing every day, and had outlined the story (for the most part) and thought about it well before I started writing it.

Third, my inner editor has been bound, gagged, and locked in a closet. As such, what I’m writing this month will never be shared with anyone else in its current state, which really takes the pressure off. I did NaBloPoMo several years back, and it was hard. Knowing people might read what I’d write? Scary.

In contrast, NaNoWriMo is a free-for-all of words without worry. Grammatical errors galore, typos, repetitive phrases, a wobbly timeline, lack of context, plot holes galore–my current draft has all these and more. And I don’t care, because I’m getting the ideas down, and eventually I’ll go back and edit, and edit some more, and bring it all together.

It’s a different experience from writing the first fic, which was edited as it was written. I’m not sure I like the writing-without-editing process better, but it works for the purpose of writing fast. I’m not sure I would do it this way again, but it’s an interesting approach.

The month only gets harder from here; the end of November is busy with travel and Thanksgiving, so my goal is to get to 50k before I leave for London. Then I’ll try to spend the rest of the month re-reading and editing and filling in the gaps.

NaNoWriMo, here I come!

X-Files fanfic cover in progressI mentioned in one of my last posts that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo in November, and I may be setting myself up for failure. Next month is ridiculous, schedule-wise, with each of us traveling for a week, and with Thanksgiving, and my tendency to edit as I write, I have no idea how I’ll reach the requisite 1,700 words per day. But hey, you never know.

Until a few months ago, the longest paper I’d ever written just barely crested 10,000 words, and it was a college essay for Canadian Studies about Pierre Trudeau; a fascinating guy in his own right, but not a particularly fascinating paper. I was known to drop college courses if the syllabus required any papers greater than 10,000 words, and I purposely chose a major that didn’t require writing a traditional thesis.

I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that interests me enough to hold my intrigue for 50,000 words, so the idea of writing a novel for fun seemed like an annoying way to spend my free time.

That said, I used to write all the time; poetry and short stories, plus blogging (before they called it blogging), but never anything longer than a few thousand words. That would require an attention span.

Speaking of things that do hold my attention, a few months ago I started re-watching The X-Files and reading the new X-Files Season 10 comics, and that got me thinking about the epic story arcs that show generated (and all the resulting loose ends). 2013 marks the series’ 20th anniversary (oh, hey, I feel old) so I’ve had this show on the brain, and I started thinking about a story.

I’ve written XF fanfic before, and hopefully it will never see the light of day, because I spent most of the stories thinking up excuses for the characters to fall into bed together. (In my defense, the sexual frustration in the first seven seasons is almost unbearable, even now, watching the show as an adult.) After a few nights of mulling over one particular plot idea, I got the crazy idea in my head to start writing fanfic again, this time with a storyline that doesn’t read like soft-core porn. I wanted to stay true to the original series and the characters, and follow up with the William story arc.

That fic is currently sitting at over 60,000 words. It still needs editing and beta reading and more editing, and I feel like I’ll be plucking away at it forever. But I did it, and now my life list is happy.

Write a novel(-length piece of fan fiction) — check!

I’ve outlined my ideas for the sequel, which I intend to be my NaNoWriMo project. Again, I tend to edit as I write, which is not great for speed, so I’m going to try to curb the urge to tweak every last word. I’ll try to write scenes as they come to me, rather than writing from beginning to end, then piece them together after the fact.

In any case, I’m happy to have a project to work on that’s different from my usual fare. If you’re writing this year, please be my friend on NaNoWriMo! I’m going to need all the motivation I can get.

tl;dr: i should blog more

The irony of being a WordPress geek who rarely blogs is not lost on me. I spend most of my days in front of a screen, working with this very interface, but how much of that time is actually spent blogging for me? Practically none. And it’s not that I don’t have anything to write about; I have plenty! In fact, I have a list of potential blog topics a mile long, dating back to this spring.

I’m going to make an effort to work through the list in the next couple weeks, in preparation for (my first!) NaNoWriMo. I figure if I flex my writing muscles here, I’m more likely to complete the month of November with a workable first draft.

Topics covered may include:

  • Our new house and its myriad of slow-going projects
  • What happens when you drop a pot of coffee on your kid (spoiler alert: Bad things!)
  • How I wrote a novel I’ll never be able to publish
  • This year’s Halloween costumes
  • Life with a newly-minted two-year-old
  • Life with a newly-minted Kindergardener
  • Health update

But I’m going to start on a high note (hah) by writing about my biggest reason for not writing: Depression.

I tried to write about it sooner, but everything came out morose and dark and un-fun. Makes sense; depression is a pretty morose, dark, and un-fun thing. I have a list of saved drafts that, from my newly medicated perspective, sound like sad whining. I’m grateful I didn’t publish them, but I’m also grateful I wrote them for me.

(Why do I feel like everything I publish here should be light and fluffy? I don’t know. New therapy topic!)

Here’s an excerpt from one of those drafts:

Originally, I thought it was the winter blues, lingering. Then I thought it was situational stress, that would get better once we’d sold the condo and moved. Then I chalked it up to ye olde woman’s woes — oh, those pesky hormones! Then I tried telling myself to get over it, snap out of it, and suck it up, which, as you can probably guess, went over really well with my anxiety-ridden brain. But now I’m beginning to think that whatever Eeyore-esque cloud has settled around me is not going to magically disappear, no matter how much I try to brush it off as nothing, or pretend it doesn’t exist, or yell at it to go away.

On my best days, I’m mostly neutral. On my worst days, I’m non-functional. Thankfully (?) there are mostly neutral days and not a lot of bad days, but just one day where I can’t get out of bed because the world is nothing but black, crushing anxiety, is one too damn many.

The ability to feel genuine excitement or joy would be nice, too. I miss that.

The me of today, the Celexa-and-therapy me, is feeling awesome. I no longer wake up and dread getting out of bed. A messy house will not give me a panic attack. I can actually feel happy about things again.

The amount of stuff we’ve been through in the last year makes my head spin. I suppose I needed a reality check; at my first therapy session, I began to list all the things I felt I had to keep track of, and after the sixth or seventh major item, my therapist’s eyes said it all.

Lady, you’re going to make an excellent client.

Two little kids. New puppy. Moving. Selling our house. Renovations. New living arrangements. Full-time job with travel. Crappy internet. Weight loss. Exercise. Me time. Husband time. Family time.

Over the summer, I shed a couple of those items, and now I’m managing my crazy life and mostly enjoying it, rather than suffering and dreading it. It’s amazing what a little pill and regular talking can do for your perspective. Depression made it hard to want to talk about anything, and not writing got me out of the habit. Now that the former is being addressed, I can work on the latter, and hopefully the result will be a more active personal blog!