Writer John Palisano recently posted the following on Facebook:
Just got an email from NanoWrimo stating that ‘every’ writer would rather ‘have written’ than ‘write’ and that writing is painful and such.
I disagree. I love being in the zone. I love tapping away at the keyboard, the story flowing out like music. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. It doesn’t hurt. It’s not painful. It’s not a struggle to make happen, most of the time.
I’m not the only one, am I?
No, he’s definitely not the only one. There is nothing like being in that zone. That vanishing into a world in my head and staying there with my characters, living out whatever fantasy I want (no matter how outlandish), the words just flying out of me as easily as drunken conversation. It’s almost like being on a magical vacation; the outside world recedes. I obsess over whatever topic, setting, or interesting object that the story is about. I avoid bills, cleaning, laundry and just about anything else I can get away with for the sake of art, and hey, if I have to function because I can’t get out of something, it’s an excuse to mentally tune-out.
On the flip side, if the fiction is really just a channel for something sad, stressful, and overwhelming I’m trying to process, it can be gut-wrenching. I fail to eat for however long it takes to get it done, I avoid correspondence or contact with anyone as much as I can, I question every single choice I’ve ever made in my life or even why I exist at all. And I usually cry a lot.
This isn’t the case with every piece I write, but it was the case with a piece I finished this morning. It’s been the greatest week of my life in a long, long time, but it’s also been balls-on anxiety and other not-so-pleasant emotions since Tuesday.
A few of you out there are aware of this. It’s official–the first draft is done, and I have set myself free! I’ve not only written a very solid story (yes, it still has to go through revision and critique, but I don’t invest in that on a spiritual level), I’ve emotionally worked through what I was processing. I feel completely unburdened and can have some fun now—I can focus on cleaning my house, doing the shopping for Thanksgiving, and wrapping some Christmas gifts (I shop all year, so it’s never really too early to start).
I’m having a glass of wine in a nice hot bath to celebrate. I encourage you all to celebrate with me in whatever way you see fit! If you’re waiting to hear from me, you will soon. And oh my God, where are the cheese and crackers because I’m starving.
Have a great week!
Yeah, I know, running behind again…two weeks in Texas, three to catch my breath, then off to Disney just about killed me and I’m still catching up. But at least summer’s here!
This Writing Life Episode 5: Ups and Downs was supposed to be released in May, but it just didn’t happen. That said, here it is now…if you’re not happy with your writing life right now, maybe this’ll give you some hope. Enjoy!
Episode 4 of my sometimes-web series, This Writing Life, is now posted! It’s about creating authentic settings…but I think this might really just be a lot of food porn? Check it out and judge for yourself…watch it here.
I know, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard about This Writing Life. Even though I have a blast doing it, it’s too big a project to do on a weekly basis, so now it’s once a month (or maybe twice — either way that’s great, since I have nine future episodes in the can already and by the time I use those up I should have more).
If you missed any of the prior episodes you can visit here.
Ah, it’s that time of year—NanoWrimo, in which those of us who are looking for a lot of diversion for 30 days hole up in our homes, coffee shops or libraries and party on with our laptops and AlphaSmart Neos to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
I’ve done Nano a few times, and won most. In fact, my novel Bad Apple, which is forthcoming from Vagabondage Press Books early next year, was sort-of a Nano project—I wrote the whole thing in nine days in September of 2005, then used Nano as my first revision timeline. The novel has undergone heavy and extensive revisions since then, a few times over—but wow the fun I had doing it. When they said ‘literary abandon,’ they weren’t kidding.
This year, I won’t be joining the happy throngs of burgeoning novelists—I’ve just got too much on my plate. I actually feel guilty about that. Writer Stacey Longo, though, shared some advice with a classroom full of writers recently that reminded me that whether I do Nano or not, that doesn’t make me any less of a writer—I’m a writer all year, and that this November there are things I can do that keep me in touch with that part of myself.
n Re-read your favorite writing advice book.
n Read a book you’ve been meaning to get to forever and haven’t had time.
n Clean out your writing files—chuck old drafts, notes, etc. that you don’t want.
n Do some revisions.
n Hang out with a writing friend.
n Research places to submit your work, then if you have anything, submit, submit, submit.
n Get your future story ideas in order.
So, if you’re NOT doing Nano this year due to lack of time, or energy, or craziness in your life, and you’re feeling some loss—remember, there’s always next year. Until then? Check out Stacey’s article. What she shared with the class reminded me there are other things we can do in November to keep that feeling of loss and disappointment at bay—and that if you’re a writer then you’re always at it no matter what the calendar says.