Self-Fulfilling NaNophesy

I met the word count goal 8 days in a row and told myself I’d catch up on Sunday when I fell behind.

It’s Sunday, I have a half-dozen metaphorical fires to put out, and my brain does not care half as much about writing this thing as it does making sure the rest of my life doesn’t burn down around me.

This is what I anticipated when I started NaNo this month. I was kinda just hoping that was the pessimism talking and that it’d all work out in the end.

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It’s only three days in so really, it’s too early to make any predictions but what I’ve got going for me so far:

  • I’ve met the word count goal every day so far
  • I’ve found a way to sneak like 15-20 minutes of writing into my regular routine with only minor changes that my son only sort of notices.
  • My husband is on board so far with helping me find more time by taking the kids on a nap ride in the afternoon without me. This won’t work every day but it’s working so far
  • I’ve chosen a story that I’m interested in finding out more about in a location I’ve been curious about for a while with a main character who reflects some of my current attitudes about interacting with other humans (bad) so it’s been easy to write so far
  • I’m so used to surviving on precious little sleep at this point. Like, why not stay up writing a few extra half-hours?

What I’ve got going against me is:

  • Having two children now, neither or whom will nap without a ride in the car or go to bed at night without a whole lot of love and attention.
  • Two imploding job situations where I’m dealing with two separate sets of problems alongside two teams of people who can’t always handle their shiz
  • Honestly, like three or four non-consecutive hours of sleep at night. I’m on the brink of sleep-deprived madness, for REAL. Maybe it’s fueling my creativity? Or maybe it’s making my husband and children WANT to escape from me for a few hours every afternoon. Hard to say.

Anyway, I’m at 5100 words and the fam’s not back from their nap ride yet so I’m going to forge ahead and make tomorrow easier.

Or I could take a break and watch another episode of A Million Little Things. Can you believe the baby’s father is the other guy? No, because you don’t care? Well, I kinda do… for the 54 minutes I’m watching, anyway.

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By the Seat of My Pany-pan Pants

This is the blog post where I try to decide what to do for NaNoWrimo. Write something new or finish something I’ve started?

No matter what I write in this post, I will end up doing whatever the hell I feel like doing coming November 1. And there’s a good chance I will change my mind and start over again on November 2.

So this blog post is pointless. Trying to plan ahead is pointless. My writer self does whatever the hell she wants whenever she feels like doing it.

Incorrigible. Inveterate. Resolute.

Pantser for life, ya’ll.

 

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Time to Pub That Themeless Series of Flash Fics

I haven’t self-published anything this year and for pretty good reason but with NaNoWriMo looming, I’m starting to feel bad about that.

I mean, I shouldn’t. I… had a child. I… suffered from postpartum depression. I… was the primary caretaker for two young children while also working two part-time jobs. The fact that I wrote at all is amazing.

But I’m so much about moving forward, especially in my writing career, that this past year feels like a limbo time suck of cognitive dissonance.

I really just want to feel like I completed something. And I didn’t. And it’s disheartening.

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I Never Dream of Flying

Do only the briefest of moments pass between the end of one NaNo and the prep for the next or did I really spend that entire time binging Agents of Shield and reading books I hated and ultimately gave up on?

I’m already getting emails from the good people at NaNoWriMo asking me to announce my novel and here I am all, what day is it again?

I do have an idea, though! Based on a dream I had and a reality I see a lot of my students living, it’s a YA adventure about the appearance of perfection. Sounds derivative, yes. Might be. Don’t know yet because my “prep” is usually like, “remember that dream I had one time about that girl and it felt like I had to lie to everyone all the time or clowns would eat me? What would that story look like? Who’s that girl? What’s the real life equivalent of feeling like clowns would eat me at any moment?”

It’s a strategy that’s worked for me in the past:

“Remember that dream I had where I was sitting on a bench with Daniel Grayson from Revenge and we had these two kids we needed to figure out how to take care of but they definitely weren’t like OUR kids and some really bad shit was happening like fires and destruction and apocalypses and whatnot?”

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What starts as a meaningless fling between Bunny, an emotionally-conflicted older woman who just left her battle-scarred husband and Daniel, a hopelessly infatuated younger man recently graduated from college, is curtailed by a series of explosions that destroys schools and hospitals sending the couple 200 miles from home with three children in tow. When the found family seeks safety in a strict religious community, they are forced to concoct a web of lies to appear legitimate and avoid being exiled, or worse. Can they maintain their ruse to avoid suspicion and keep their family together or will the secrets they keep from each other drive them apart? And how much of the trauma they discovered her husband and his father shared upon returning from war was ultimately responsible for the tragic events that lead to their new lives?

Ultimately, though, I imagined Daniel Grayson as the young Daniel and Derek Hale as the older Daniel and… it was a fun book to write.

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Now we’ve got the Noah Centineos and Cole Sprouses of the world to imagine playing our characters. Not the same, or maybe I’m just old and stuck in my ways, but it helps to imagine an adorable smile shining down on your characters as motivation to keep writing.

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Point being, it’s a strategy and it works for me and I might change my mind six times before I get there but at least I’ve got a starting point, right?

Let’s Camp Again… like we did last summer

I just signed up for CampNaNoWriMo again but THIS TIME, I am writing something new instead of attempting to edit!

Also, I’m not pregnant, so that might help. But I have two children now and that will not.

So winning is not a given… is all I’m trying to say. But it’s a good chance to switch WIPs without completely abandoning one to work on the other.

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NANO GOOOOOOOOO!

Simpler Times for Scumbags

Well, I certainly did try to edit my NaNo project into something cohesive and I’m not saying I’m ready to give up on it. But I do believe it needs some space to breath.

This is true for most of the things I write, that I need some space between the writing and the editing, but especially so for a mostly true story about a totally shit time in my life.

So I’ve started something new! Something fun! Something that started out as a merry jaunt through time and space, an attempt to recreate a nostalgic event in the lives of the main character’s parents… but then… my mind went to the dark place and so did the story. Now the main character will share her story with her mom who’s been reading a lot about the #TimesUp movement and following coverage of a fictionalized version of that scumbag gymnastics doctor’s trial and reexamining some of those nostalgic events through the lens of a more cynical and much more informed adult eye.

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Also… woo! Road trip!

Chewbacca’s Moral Quandry

How likely is it that people who trash a story just didn’t get what they needed from it?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Between Riverdale and The Last Jedi, I’ve been reading a lot of vitriol in the realm of fandom that doesn’t seeeeem like criticism as much as bitching. It’s not in the way of intellectual discourse so much as whiny baby bullshit. And while it can be argued that many internet commentators are just dummies with a digital soapbox to abuse, it seems like many of the haters are just hurters lashing out against the story’s failure to address their inner turmoil.

I’ve written about this both here on the blog and in the novel-length, only sort of fictionalized, unreliable narrator-led personal essay NaNoWriMo project I’m still working on editing:

You know what it is? I think the reason I’m feeling the pain of these two characters so strongly, the reason I feel this kind of intimate connection to them is because they’re so broken and fragile and seeing what comfort they take in each other is vicarious comfort for me. Not that I’m broken and fragile. Not in the same way. But yeah, actually, maybe I am and maybe I’m lacking in comfort in the same way. Maybe I’m not OK at all and there’s more to my current mental state than postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation.

But it’s been on my mind a whole lot more since… well, yesterday when I got home from seeing The Last Jedi and immediately read as many articles about it as possible.

 

Lots of bitching. Only a few critiques.

And I get it! Some of us want a story we can recognize and predict because it makes us feel safe about an unknown future. Some of us want a simple story where good is good and evil is evil and we don’t have to stretch our morality or consider the perspective of The Other to understand motivation. Some of us just want the pretty people to make out so we can live vicariously through them. When we go in expecting that, wanting that, neeeeeding that and we don’t get it?

LASHING OUT! BIZARRE THREATS MADE TO ACTORS! CURSE WORDS a’FLYIN’!

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Meanwhile, I like how emotionally and morally complicated The Last Jedi is. It’s not what I expected and I don’t understand why Poe and Finn can’t be the next great space romance, but it certainly wasn’t boring, was it?

People don’t get quite so worked up about boring stories.

 

Oprah’s Big Ole Heart

There are few things more enjoyable on a cold morning than a warm beverage in a quiet place with a nice view. That place for me is work on a Sunday when less than an eighth of the people who usually work on my floor are here and most of them are just trying to get their stuff done so they can leave. Meanwhile, I’m here for the duration so I’m taking my coffee break in the lobby by the big windows, enjoying the sunshine and silence.

There is so little silence in my life anymore.

Friends, blog readers, countrypeople… I have reason to believe that I have recovered from my “baby blues” and have rejoined the world as a normal person who already had issues with mild depression and occasional existential dread. And it feels wonderful!

It feels like time to start the editing process of my NaNo project, which was written at the height of my baby crazies and is therefore probably a giant pile of poo. I’m sure it has all the narrative flow of my wildly unpredictable mood swings and stays on topic like a dog at the window on a windy day.

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And all those concerns that no one would be interested in reading it? Pashaw! Mental illness is all the rage these days! Oprah will be singing my praises for being so “raw” and “honest”. Especially with such emotional tenderness as this:

“See…” I’m clenching my fists now. Emphatic gestures to follow. “That’s not a normal thing to say! ‘She’s not as mean now,’ is not a reasonable justification for continuing to take our child to a terrible doctor. ‘Not as mean now’ isn’t a glowing review on Yelp. It’s not a person you would willingly chose to take care of your sick child!”

“I just don’t want to change doctors now. I don’t like it.”

“What YOU like has nothing to do with the quality of medical care our son gets! How is this about you at all? Because she’s your doctor too? I’ve got news for you, cupcake, she’s not very nice to you either.”

“It doesn’t bother me is all.”

“Then keep going to her. But let’s switch to the other pediatrician.”

“I just don’t… think it’s… good.”

“I just don’t think YOU are good, you selfish prick!”

“Hey!” he says, pointing to the boy.

Because that’s exactly what we need now, I think, to have our kid calling people pricks. The mea culpa stops my tirade for the moment, but I’m not done. I’m starting to think about all the times I thought I was doing the right thing only to question myself after one of her shitty comments. I’m thinking about those first few weeks with my son when I was still suffering silently with the trauma of his birth, the pain of breastfeeding, the discomfort of my changing body, and the overwhelming emotions of it all and instead of having a doctor I could trust and speak to candidly, I had this bitch making me feel worse.

In comparison, my daughter’s doctor asked me how I was doing. He made me feel normal. He listened. He asked questions and he answered mine. And then, when I admitted I wasn’t so great, he offered me resources. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

“The deal was that we’d check out the new place and see if we liked it. We did, we do, I don’t see why we can’t switch,” I say with less bite. Instead, I feel the tears welling up, the warmth in my throat that tells me a mini-breakdown is on its way. “I just want someone I can talk to, like actually talk to and be honest with instead of always pretending everything’s ok just so I won’t be judged.”

“OK,” he says but it’s distracted and dismissive and he’s looking at his phone again.

“Can you just… with the phone? Can you listen?”

“I’m listening,” he says but he’s not. Even when he is, he’s not comprehending, so what’s the point?

“You know–” I start and the anger is rising again. Peaks and valleys, dips and swerves, my emotions are a five star coaster in a two-bit park and it’s about to break down.

But my son can’t find his red transformer and he’s starting to panic. Normally, my husband wouldn’t even notice, wouldn’t hear the repeated phrase, “My red transformer, my red transformer, my red transformer.” Normally, he would ignore even direct requests for help if it interrupted whatever nonsense he was partaking in but right now, of course, when there is something more important happening on the couch, his focus is on the floor.

He gets down on his elbows and knees to search under the bookshelf and I’m left looking at his ass and wondering what to do with all this righteous indignation. The conversation is far from over but I don’t want to interrupt him playing with his son. Instead, I swallow my bitterness, chase it with a handful of my son’s cheese crackers, and check Facebook for the third time in half an hour.

Oprah’s crying right now as she reads this. I’ve obviously touched her heart.

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