Friday, October 30, 2009

The Danger in Drifting

There's an old church that I pass every day as I navigate the turn on a one-way street through the urban town where I work. More days than not, I catch the red light - which is OK, because it gives me more time to see the message on the ... what is it called? Marquee sounds too Hollywood for this digified church. Oh, it's Friday, it's been a long week ... you know what I mean.

The other day, the message was simply this:

The Danger in Drifting

I thought about that in connection to the story I had in mind for my NaNoWriMo novel.

(For those unawares, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which begins November 1 and ends November 30. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in that timeframe - the equivalent of 175 pages. I've signed up this year, for the first time, and am a combination of excited/nervous. While I fully really realize that any number of words that gets me closer to writing a book is an accomplishment itself, I am determined to get to word 50,000 as I usually don't play well with the notion of failure.)

But last week, the story I've been wanting to write - needing to write, really - for over a decade's time was not quite coming to fruition. I had a very vague idea, no names for my characters, just the bare skeleton of a plot ... and then, nothing.

Maybe this wasn't the best idea for a story, I thought. This is too hard, you're probably too emotionally attached. Maybe switch gears to something else.

I was drifting.

While spending time this weekend with my mother (who thinks I need a Clean-Your-House-a-Thon instead), she told me about a family friend and gave me a different idea. That could work. That was better, I thought. I began sketching out the idea for that novel in my head.

And as I did, I realized from reading the forums on the NaNoWriMo site and others' thoughts, that it is really OK to be feeling discombobulated and adrift at this stage. That the point of NaNo is simply to write - there will be time, in the winter months, for chipping away at the prose and the words, to make them bloom. It doesn't have to be perfect - far from it. It just has to be.

And so I've returned to the original story, the one that I've been carrying around since 1996 with the refrain of "someday ... maybe ..."

Someday maybe is on the calendar. November 1.

We'll see what happens with this, and I'll post updates and maybe a rough excerpt or paragraph or two. I also have a bunch of "ready to go" blog posts and book reviews, just so you don't miss me too much while I'm NaNo-ing.

(Seriously, people, I can't be the only one who feels like Mork from Ork whenever I say "NaNo," can I? I know, I'm dating myself with that reference, but I know my blog audience and I know some of you get it, even if it is scary to admit.)

It's not too late for you to participate in NaNoWriMo, you know. I'd love to have you as a writing buddy (you can click on the button on my sidebar to get to my NaNo page, if the feeling is mutual).

The Danger isn't so much in the Drifting. Rather, I think the danger comes from the fear in our minds, that we're not good enough, that what we aspire to doesn't have worth or value. That maybe the real danger is the demons lurking in ourselves, not from the trolls under the bridge.
(photo taken by me, July 2009, of the otter pond at the zoo).


Alexia561 said...

Really enjoyed you post! Totally understand the danger of drifting, and not just with the NaNoWriMo contest. I'll be cheering everyone on and think it's a great idea, but there's no way I could write that many words!

And FYI, I also got the Mork and Nano Nano reference! We're not old, we watch reruns! *L*

Anonymous said...

From someone sitting in the middle of it, I can honestly say yes, the point is just to write. The first draft has one job: to get you to the end of your story, to show you how it goes.

The rest, the chipping away, the additions, the fine-tuning of every last word? Put it out of your mind for now. Write with abandon.