Apparently I needed a minute.
So what happened was, 21×31 came to a crash landing. I wrote about it somewhat on November 1, but that was mostly an executive overview of the project; I was (and still am) far too close to the experience to really reflect. The weekend of November 2-3, I spent all of my waking hours cheering for my pole dancer friends (and people I’ve never met) as they performed on stage. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to sit in a dark room all day and holler? I was super pooped! Definitely no writing.
I had every intention of starting on NaNoWriMo with gusto on Monday November 4th. That….didn’t happen. I didn’t feel like writing. I didn’t feel like reading. I didn’t feel like picking up trash or cooking food or stretching or doing any of the things I did for [most of my] 31 days. Instead, I cancelled dance class and did a little depressive moping and some intense video gaming. I went to class on November 5th, but I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been the last week in an 8-week series. I thought about writing for a minute, then didn’t. I volunteered at the food bank again on Wednesday (gotta feed the kids!) but could not bring myself to write.
On Thursday (that’ll be the 7th) I finally started a fresh document and titled it The Waterman and started typing. I got it going for the better part of an hour; by the time I gave up because words weren’t making sense anymore, I had written 237 of them. For the record, the target goal for each day of NaNoWriMo is ~1667 words, to reach 50,000 in 30 days. At 237 words per day, I will reach 50,000 in about 210 days, or roughly 7 months. Cool.
So I picked up the pa— haha, no I didn’t! I resumed playing video games until ungodly hours of the night, and continued not writing for another five days! (I mean, technically, I can still write tonight and it will be only four days, but I probably won’t.) For math’s sake, let’s just say I still have 50,000 words to write. I now have 18 days remaining in the month; arithmetic is not my strong suit, but the calculator tells me that I need to average 2778 words per day from here until the end, if I want to get to 50K.
This is totally possible, as long as I let go of my unyielding need to make the first draft the final draft, and to edit as I go. These are tricky impulses, but I know I can overcome them. For example, each of my blog posts for October were 1200-1500 words, for a rough range. I spent 1-2 hours writing each of them, and to be perfectly honest, I wrote a lot of words that don’t print on the screen, in the form of HTML code (because of course), so I know I can hit 3000 words if I only make sure I’m spending at least 3 hours writing.
Okay? Piece of cake.
About two weeks ago, a friend of mine who recently got married asked me to stay with her dog, at her home, while she went on a honeymoon with her new wife. Because Guy is currently on a sabbatical from work, and he has the flexibility to be with Howie as much as is needed, I said okay. The plan is to be here for the weekdays and nights for the next two weeks, excepting my time at the food bank and dance class and so on.
My friend only lives about 10 minutes away from our house, but I started to imagine a personal writer’s retreat, where my crazy active dog was replaced with a relatively quiet and chill pup (because hers hurt his back), and my husband wasn’t sharing the same room with me for 22 hours out of every day. I love both Howie and Guy, don’t get me wrong, but the rhythm of our collective life and the physical structure of our home lull me into patterns that, unfortunately, have not been fostering my writing. I’ve fantasized about a second bedroom in a BIG way, y’all.
I’ve been looking into doing a formal writing retreat, but they are spendy, and some require you to already be writing things to be accepted. Imposter syndrome aside, I don’t have a portfolio (yet) or a clear enough story outline to send to a publisher-type (yet) so I don’t really qualify for those retreats. And I recognize that the expense of a retreat is about investing in yourself, but I am already doing that by not working a regular job. A free/all-inclusive writer’s retreat close to home (and the dance studio!) sounds like just the way to a) get some dedicated time during which to write something substantial, possibly for submission, and b) test out the idea of a retreat to convince myself it’s worth the investment, and c) have a better sense of what I’d be committing to so I can be mentally, emotionally, and functionally prepared.
So here I find myself this evening, with my split ergonomic keyboard in my lap under the table, my screen propped up to a more natural height, music tuned to Spotify’s “Focus Flow” playlist, iPad sitting there (for no reason, really) with my vision board as the background, water at the ready, and a beautiful impressionist map of the world to glance up and muse upon:
Of course, I haven’t started writing again for NaNoWriMo; it took me longer than expected to get everything set up and to settle myself in, and I’m pretty tired. I am writing at this very moment, so I’m exercising the muscle…. The most key thing right now is that my video games are at home, and I don’t have a way of accessing them from my friend’s house. The usual distractions don’t exist here, and I haven’t bothered to figure out the entertainment system, so I can either read, or write, or sleep, and all of those activities are useful and productive in their own way.
Given the time of day, sleep is probably the most readily available. Writing can wait until the brain has rested. Maybe I’ll read a little before I go to sleep (I’m currently working on A Woman is No Man, a novel centered around three generations of Palestinian Arab women from the 1990s through today, by Etaf Rum.) Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be awake enough to do a little writing before I head to the food bank, and then I’ll hit the keyboard hard after I get back in the afternoon. That’s the plan!
Fun fact: from the title through the end of this footnote, this post has 1201 words, words which do not count toward my 50,000 unless I want to change course entirely and write a horribly boring self-important memoir.
The best thing my brother ever did to do his own version of NaNoWriMo (which was him just trying to finish his book that last I heard was around 200k words and no one has ever read…) was to take away access to the internet. He went out to our family cabin and just brought his laptop with a word processor. Life is really boring without the internet or TV…
Anyway, good luck! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I hear that, and….I’m not quite ready to make the switch! That’s probably a big help. It would also help if I were truly on a retreat, and not still doing my regular stuff, coordinating the car with Guy, etc. It’s going to take some intentional time.
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