2014 Comes Rolling In

(or, Another Year, Another Chance to Achieve the Impossible)

2013-Winner-Vertical-BannerGreetings, all!  It seems I’ve suffered something more of a hiatus than I’d anticipated, but I’m back, New Year’s resolutions and all.  First off, exciting news – I have once again faced the oft-indomitable challenge of NaNoWriMo and emerged the victor!  November’s project saw the start of a novel in which a young woman born with a special gift condemned as a curse by the society in which she lives struggles to establish her sense of identity and morality, discovering the potential within all people for both great good and great evil.  I may see this project through to its end this year, but my primary goal is to return to the story that has consumed much of my time these past few years and finally get a complete, edited draft I can usher out the door into the greater world beyond like a kindergartner off to her first day of school, blossoming with hope and promise.  Will she flourish into some brilliant beauty, top of her class and good at everything she does?  Will she muddle through just fine, making no great name for herself but basking in the warmth of her closest friendships?  Will she … drop out and start slumming it with the twenty-something from downtown with the skull tattoos and a nickname that’s some breed of canine, coming home only long enough to blast me with obscenities and steal my debit card?  Only time will tell.

That said, with the new year comes little change.  I’m still writing, still working, still grappling with the metaphysical crossroads of my existence … still playing Skyrim, for crying out loud.  But there are new hopes and dreams and possibilities and best-laid plans to put to the test.  Here’s to 2014, everyone!  May we all find joy in some little way.

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A Triumphant Return!

(or, A Bedraggled but Ultimately Satisfied Return)

Greetings!  I have just gotten back from something of a wander out west.  While I was away, I started writing up quite a few ramblings that I’m fairly excited to put into print.  Hopefully, that means I’ll have a wealth of new reading for you all in the next few weeks!  Of course, we’re also coming up on this year’s NaNoWriMo event, so there will be updates on that as well.  Let me just get these typin’ fingers primed, and we’re good to go!

Moving Forward

(or, Concerning the Worries of a Budding Novelist)

I’m not going to lie to you – this article is about to drop some truth on you.  Heavy truth, the kind that comes out when you’re philosophizing with your best friend at 3:00 am after a night of heavy drinking.  Hopefully, that means it will be a therapeutic, inspirational kind of truth as well, not kind that will result in us going comatose and waking up the next morning with regrets.  It concerns moving forward in pursuit of a dream.

Camp-NaNoWriMo-2013-Winner-Campfire-Circle-BadgeCamp NaNoWriMo has finally come to a close, and it is with great pride that I announce I have reached my word count goal!  Well, my adjusted word count goal of 25,000 words, anyway.  I admit this is far from my original goal of 50,000, but 25,000 words is still nothing to sneeze at (unless, of course, you’re allergic to this much raw, unbridled progress!).  I am making significant headway with my novel, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I might actually finish a book.  Maybe I have what it takes; maybe I can succeed at a life goal I’ve had since I was a child.  I’ve written so much and I’ve learned even more, maybe these dreams are possible.  Maybe I can throw everything I have – all my focus, my energy, my extra time – into becoming a writer rather than just one who occasionally writes.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

You see, I felt this way once before, years ago when I had dreams of being a video game designer.  I did my research, I enrolled in classes, I made plans and worked what jobs I could to get by, and I worked harder than I’d have thought possible trying to make that dream a reality, barreling forward with what felt like supreme clarity.  Then, I got tripped up.  A financial screw-up left me with an extra heap of student loans but no qualifications to show for them, and my situation was worse than when I started – certainly no closer to my goal.  I had to surrender then or dig myself into a deeper hole without even the slightest promise of being able to climb out again at the end.

The experience of hitting that colossal roadblock still haunts me today, and it makes it difficult for me to readily commit to another leap.  This time, I don’t need an extra degree, I don’t necessarily need documents saying I’m qualified to do what I do, and I don’t really need to make a monetary investment in order to proceed.  But I do need focus.  I’ll need to set the things I dabble in aside while I dive deep into this one pursuit.  I’ll need to see that my paying work doesn’t interfere with my writing and vice versa.  I’ll need to write even when I don’t want to, and I’ll need to risk making myself hate the thing I love.  I’ll need to face rejection and failure as well as the possibility, years down the road, that I’ll look back and see all of this as wasted time that I could have spent trying to get a fancy job that would let me get a fancy apartment of my own.

I could just continue as I have been.  I love writing; I could easily keep it up as a hobby.  This book has been on my mind for the better part of three years now, and if I’m lucky and still quite diligent, I could finish the first draft within the year.  But then, for the second draft, how long would that take using just free moments here and there?  How many edits will I go through?  How long will I search for a publisher?  When will I start the next book I want to write?  What happens if I meet someone in the meantime, suddenly taking up rock climbing in a blind fit of infatuation?  What happens if there’s an alien invasion?  Will I wake up one morning, grey-haired and tired in the service of our alien overlords, still wondering if I’ll get published someday?

That may be a bit over-dramatic, but it illustrates my concern.  I know from experience that when I hedge my bets, I stay safe, but I go nowhere.  I keep doing art, writing, random job searching, and intermittent studies, always in spurts, never committing myself in full to any one pursuit lest I miss an opportunity provided by another.  However, by doing this, I fail to improve any one skill to the point where I become extraordinary.  I know I’m capable of charging ahead toward a single goal like an unstoppable force, but I don’t have enough faith in myself to know that the goal I choose is the right one – the one that can make me happy and keep me out of the poor house, more or less.  Maybe that’s the main thing that needs to change.

I will see this story finished, one way or another.  Whether or not it will meet the world at large one day is yet to be seen, but I hope it will.  Maybe it’s time for me to just give in to that tricky little can-do feeling and shut out the naysayer within.  My instincts were wrong once, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?  Besides, if you don’t try, if you don’t give it your all, then you can’t rightly weave a touching cautionary tale from your failure, can you?  If all I’m destined to be is the master of feeling sorry for myself, I might as well earn those laments!

Every celebrated author was once a struggling, aspiring author.  They were all the way up until the day they were not.  Some may have suffered less than others, some may have had extraordinary luck, some may have been identified as geniuses early on, and some may have gotten more recognition than their mediocre writing deserved, but there was a time for each when success was uncertain.  For whatever reason, they plugged on – maybe in wild, inspired bursts, maybe in a long, drudging crawl.  And then, one day, it all became worthwhile.  I don’t think I have it in me to fail utterly, completely, and permanently, not yet.  So, by my humble reckoning, it seems the only option left is to one day succeed.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2013

(or, The Magical Land of Word Frenzy and Writing-Related Camping Puns)

2013-Participant-Lantern-Circle-BadgeYou may remember me talking about NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writer’s Month, which occurs in November of each year.  Well, they also have two summer “camp” sessions each year, and this July, I’m taking part.  Did I love the grueling hours in front of my computer so much that one intense month of it would not suffice?  Not exactly.  But I did love the sense of accomplishment, the progress I made on my storytelling, and the real hope it gave me for one day becoming a legitimate author.  Can I reproduce the results in a month full of sunshine and the potential for summer fun?  Well, if I can, that will be one hell of a confidence booster.

In some ways, Camp NaNoWriMo seems a little more fun.  For one thing, their website is fully-geared into that camp theme.  The entire visual element (which is very nicely done, by the way – bravo, webmaster!) evokes the sense of an “idyllic retreat.”  The theme also creeps into their content in the form of puns like “the Block Ness monster,” giving the whole endeavor a sense of (admittedly cheesy but still delightful) humor that banishes the sense of dread or overwhelming that may otherwise accompany the daunting project ahead.  The atmosphere is much more casual, and you can even set your own word count goal, as low as 10,000 words.  You also have the option of being sorted into “cabins,” giving you the chance to interact with a small group of other random humans pursuing the same goal as yourself, talking with and supporting each other without having to express yourself to all the thousands of participants like you would in an open forum.

For me this month, I aim to add on to the project I started back in November, a novel that has since grown to just shy of 80,000 words.  If I succeed in writing 50,000 more words in July, then I will be nearly complete with my first draft!  It’s hard for me to imagine, actually having a full, completed draft of a novel, finishing a story I’ve loved and pondered for years.  Of course, that’s not nearly the end of the process – there will be months if not years of maddening edits ahead of me, followed by the uncertain process of attempting publication.  But that doesn’t deter me, not now.  Who knows, maybe a year from now I could be calling myself a published author!  Maybe even critically-acclaimed … or bestselling!  Yes, those may be a bit less realistic, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

The Necessity of Periodic Revivals

(or, An Apology and a Continuation)

Life is a tricky thing.  One silly project, random virus, or visiting  friend comes along, and your routine is ruined for weeks.  We all know this.  But this is a blog, not a breaking news site, so we’re going to forget about the weeks of silence on move forward into a brilliant and more productive future!

I always take a great deal of inspiration from the Spring, seasonal allergies notwithstanding.  It’s not that I have any particular aversion to Winter, but once things start bursting into bloom, you can just feel the life around you so so intensely.  The greens of the leaves and grass are fresh and vivid and eager; the varied hues of the flowers spark brightly in the sun and smolder richly in the rain.  There are invigorating scents everywhere, birdsong to be heard all day long, and … let’s be honest, a totally bipolar and unpredictable weather pattern.  Among the cycle of the seasons, this is when there is the most excitement in the the air, the most opportunity and promise.  While some ladies celebrate the Spring by donning their tank tops and flip-flops in 50 degree weather, my friends know this as the time when I take way too many close-up pictures of blossoms and things.

They're just so damn pretty!

They’re just so damn pretty!

So, taking inspiration from nature’s own revival, I hope to get back to business!  By which I mean all the personal projects that, as of yet, produce absolutely no pay.  Such is the way of things, I suppose.