Have you ever run across an old friend with whom you used to share everything, yet somehow you had allowed time and circumstance to drive you apart? I’ve found it usually either proves to be quite awkward, making it painfully obvious the two of you no longer have much in common, or it’s as if no time at all has passed.
Without knowing which way this will go, I greet you all, old friends.
I apologize for being away for so long. I feel bad about it and have my theories on why it has proven to be so difficult for me to write here on even a quasi-regular basis. But I don’t want to dwell on that. I feel I have far too many posts saying I’m sorry and trying to explain away my absence. Instead of focusing on the past, I want to look at the present and the future.
For starters, I want to announce that I participated in NaNo last November (okay, that’s the past now, but it’s the fairly immediate past… kind of). Anyone who has read my posts over the years will likely be familiar with NaNo and not at all surprised I took a stab at it. After all, I’ve attempted it every year since 2011. This time, however, I beat it!
First things first, NaNo (or NaNoWriMo or even National Novel Writing Month) is an exercise of sorts for writers and wannabes, wherein one attempts to write at least 50K words in the course of the month of November (arguably one of the busiest months of the year *grumble, grumble*). The only other time I’ve beaten the 50K barrier was back in 2012 when I wrote the third book in the Unseen Things series (which, holy cow, that was 2012? I really need to finish that book already).
Every year since then, I’ve announced on my blog that I was going to try it. Shortly thereafter, I announced that I failed and I crawled away, licking the wounds caused to my ego. This year, I decided I wouldn’t say word one about it. I wondered if perhaps the pressure of it was causing me to fail in years past. So I worked on my story in private and then, when I finally crossed the threshold (52, 878 words, to be exact), I would announce that I had not only won, but I was getting back into writing more consistently. The trick, I had discovered, was to stay after work and get my writing in. I was too tired by the time I got home, too burnt out from staring at a screen at work for 10-12 hours. Only, after I won, I didn’t blog about it. I thought about it, mulled over what I might say, even started a few rough drafts, but couldn’t bring myself to post anything. A week went by, and I felt a little silly but thought there was still time to make the announcement. Then another week. And a month. And before long, I realized I hadn’t adopted any long-term strategy for writing. I did what I had to do to beat NaNo, but it had done nothing to help me get back into the groove. It’s one thing to add a few extra hours to my workday every now and then, but it wasn’t a very viable solution.
And I’ll be honest, I still don’t really have one. I’ve been looking around for a cheap laptop, thinking I might be able to start a new routine with one. I don’t write much at home, though I have written a few new chapters (that I immediately wanted to rewrite). Usually by the time I get home, sitting in an office chair staring at a computer screen is the last thing I want to do. But the passion for writing has returned to me and the creative juices are flowing freely (they were dark days when they had completely dried up thanks, in no small part, to the medication on I was on.).
Thanks to audiobooks, I’m “reading” more than I ever had in my entire life, and the puzzle pieces of my stories are starting to all come together. I feel ready to move on and create again and finish what I had started. I’m sure all of this sounds rather small but I assure you that to me, it’s huge. Writing is the way I process data and shape it into things that make sense to me. When that went away, I felt lost, alone in a way I never knew was possible. I feel it working again. I just need to shape and direct it and reconcile it with my life as it currently is.
Writing wasn’t the only thing I had lost during that time. Creating music is my alternate venue of choice for creativity and it, too, had completely dried up on me. I went from writing a song or two a week to nothing for months. I scribbled down some lyrics here and there and even tried a bit of recording, but it went about as well as my writing had. Now, I feel both of them pulling at me, urging me to create. I’ve been working on a small EP about the joys of work (write what you know, they say), and I probably have hundreds of lyrics at my disposal, should I ever get around to needing a new song to work on.
A few days ago, I discovered there’s a musical equivalent of NaNo that urges the participant to write 10 new songs (or 35 minutes worth) in the month of February (the shortest month of the year. It’s like these people are trying to punish us). I immediately signed up for it and now I’m just waiting for February 1st to get here so I can jump in. As far as I can tell, there are no rules about the quality of writing. Only that it be something new that I haven’t worked on before. Because my singing sounds like an eclectic blend of alley cats making sweet feline love and Hot Wheels toy cars being ground up in a Vitamix, my songs have only ever been for my own personal enjoyment (and the personal suffering of a few of my closest friends who are willing to subject themselves to them). So I’m not terribly worried about the quality.
Still, I know, without a doubt, I’m going to be able to do this. And then I’ll have 10 new songs to listen to, 10 pieces of music that doesn’t currently exist. Just as I’ll soon rewrite those chapters I worked on (I didn’t feel as if they’d turned out very well, so the workshop in the back of my head went into overdrive and finally gave me some direction. Unfortunately, it involves undoing that which I had just done, but it’ll be better for it in the long run). I still haven’t quite figured out the best way for me to manage my time when it comes to my creative pursuits, but I know I’ll be able to do that as well. I spent far too long feeling unwhole, restless and confused.
I’ll let my music sort all of that out. In the meantime, I’ve got some books to finish.
Thanks for reading,