It’s almost 6 am on the East Coast and dawn hasn’t broken yet. And I’m awake. Which for anyone who knows me well, knows that doesn’t happen very often. Okay, almost never.
I couldn’t sleep last night. I am participating in NaNoWriMo which is all-consuming. Two years ago, I didn’t even know what that acronym meant, nor how to spell it correctly as I furiously took notes at my first Dallas/Fort Worth Writer’s Critique meeting. For those of you unfamiliar, November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write approximately 1700 words a day, or roughly 50,000 words by November 30th. That word-count amounts to about the size of a typical book, and writers joke that it should be considered your “shitty first draft.” I participated last year, but I focused on research. And by research, I mean procrastinated. Now, I really did research, I read “The Sociopath Next Door,” by Martha Stout and “Writing the Breakout Novel,” by Donald Maass. I’m sure I’m not alone, but there is great fear of putting actual words on the page that will be exposed to other people besides me, leaving me exposed. What if it’s not good enough? Is my grammar correct (Yes, I’m weak in grammar, go figure.)? I’ve always written my innermost thoughts and feelings on pages that only I could see. It is difficult to be so vulnerable. Especially for a sensitive little shit like me.
But, I’m excited. I joined the Mysterians Critique group in April, and actually created my first chapter (after in-depth study of Larry Brooks’ “Story Engineering” and Les Edgerton’s “Hooked” both incredibly useful and now dog-eared craft of writing books). I was so scared I wouldn’t be accepted to the group…again, consumed by self-deprecating thoughts. But, I learned something very key from one of my most favorite writing experts, Kristen Lamb (whom I met in my short time in DFW, TX). I signed up for her virtual class this past year on “The Art of Character.” Her lesson has resonated with me ever since, and not only on how to create great characters in fiction, but in my personal life too. Her instruction was this: every person has central paradigms that layer over each other that make characters/people who they are. For example, ask yourself these questions: are you family-oriented vs. the rebellious black sheep? Are you money- and/or power-oriented or do you care most about making a difference in the lives of others? Are you a nurturer or self-serving? Are you an only child? A middle child? You get the idea; your values, nature vs. nurture experiences and exposure to each, have molded you into the person you are today. As I reflected on my old paradigms which were severely focused around receiving self-worth almost solely from my job and my financial contributions to the household (which is unhealthy, BTW), I realized I no longer had a purpose. Or at least my purpose had changed. Once Steve and I moved from Colorado, my paradigms shifted (and still are) to someone who now cares solely for our acreage and home, and am responsible for creating the structure of my day. And I was to be an ‘aspiring’ writer. (BTW, ‘aspiring’ writers don’t write, they dream. So now I’m a pre-published author. Sounds better, right?)
So, I probably have some grammatical errors contained within this blog, I’m sure I could have been more concise, but I’m trying and actually doing the work. I now have a meaningful purpose and am surrounded virtually and physically with friends and colleagues that are committed to help me be a better writer. I have rewritten this now (since this morning)…it is now 12 hours later, because I did make mistakes. I had to rethink and re-word some sentences to really drive home my point, and hopefully make it easier for all of you to follow along. I am proud of one thing, though. I didn’t spend five days on this blog (like I did my first two, can you say perfectionist?), I spent an hour on this. And that’s an improvement, and I exposed myself to possible criticism because it was a quickly written blog spoken from the heart. And that’s hard to do.
It is day one of NaNoWriMo, and I’ve already written 515 words (okay it is 6pm now during this edited version, and I’ve written more than 2,000 words) and it’s still dark outside (and the sun is fading as darkness falls upon Fairview, North Carolina). Hell, yeah!
Thanks for reading.