Thoughts from a Frazzled NaNoWriMo Writer

This year, I decided to embrace NaNoWriMo with gusto. I cut back on my blogging – personal and professional – and haven’t accepted new clients for website content, resumes, and LinkedIn set-ups. I have focused on creative writing and jumped into waters of self-discovery head first. I was inspired from a visit by author Jennifer Egan, invited to Denver by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. I thought, I have been writing short stories, primarily to hone my skills as well as honor the time constraints in my life. It’s time to throw caution to the wind and tackle a novel!

Jennifer Egan writes long-hand. She then types her handwritten work and begins the editing process. Due to finger injuries (several broken bones from high school softball), it is less painful for me to type on a keyboard. Still, I wanted to try this approach of abandoned, free-style writing. Create first, edit second. I do have an outline of a story. I begin with a basic premise of what human condition I would like to explore. I then craft a story around the theme. I thought I knew where I was going to go but something strange happened along this journey. I have become hopelessly lost.

Over the past week or so, I delved so deeply into the sub-context of my secondary characters that they began to take over the story, wrestling it away from my protagonist and antagonist. I have actually created self-confusion. Self-doubt is creeping into my creative process. What the hell am I trying to convey? Where is this story going now? I released the rope that tethered me, allowing creative freedom, and now I have so much rope that I am afraid I have tangled myself up so tightly I am not sure how to release myself.

I have lost my focus. I am frazzled and frustrated. I’ve made it to eighteen days and I have a sense of failure lingering in my sub-conscious. I did not expect to complete an entire novel in one month. I also did not expect that I would become so lost in this process. As I began to wander with my words, I thought I should just keep going, letting the story unfold on its own. The more I allowed this, the more I ran around in maze of words, encountering dead ends at every turn. My theme became hidden and invisible. I then realized that I needed to do something, anything to reclaim not only the story but my sanity. My plan is to retrace my steps and return to using my map, my outline. I can think of no other way to proceed. Unlimited margaritas, a tempting option, will probably not help with the process in the long run. It will, though, provide a nice repose.

Happy writing? Not today. I refuse to give up. I will just need to regroup.