More NaNoWriMo ponderings…and ponderings on my fiction writing in general

11 Oct


So I’ve been giving more thought to NaNoWriMo and what form of participation, if any, I will have in it. And I realized something that really bothers me. Part of the reason my participation in the original fic community nanowhinging has dropped off is that “I’m just not that into” the story I’ve been working on. It’s more like I’ve been trying to pull something together so I can say, “hey, I’m working on a novel” but not really having much enthusiasm for the actual novel in question.

This is disturbing to me on a number of levels, but the foremost of them is that fiction writing is my passion, and the novel is my medium. And starting about 14 years ago, I could always say, “I’m working on a novel.” Even if the damned thing was just a play-thing tucked away on my hard drive destined to never see the light of day, I was working on one. Then a few years ago, my biggest project, the novel I’d worked on the longest, sort of died still-born in a very well-developed fifth draft simply because I’d outgrown the story and its themes. It had come from who I was in my 20’s and I wasn’t in my 20’s anymore. I set it aside, intending to go back and polish it, then got all caught up in a new game–fan fic.

Nothing against fan fic, but it’s a very different challenge than original fiction. Fan fic lets you play because a lot of the story elements/character development are already provided for you and you can concentrate on other things–like exploring interesting themes, or learning the art form of the screenplay/directing. And of course having a built-in audience base and being read and getting good feedback is total crack. But you can’t publish fan fic, and unless it’s totally OOC/fic-universe-rule-breaking, you’ve skipped over the challenge and fun and work of world-building and character-building.

So what am I saying? I’ve considered turning NaNoWriMo into a fan fic marathon. Two or three episodes of TD in one month! Sounds like fun, but it also sounds very avoidant.

I’ve considered doing 30 story drabbles (one a day) on my nanowhinging story, but there’s the rub…I honestly don’t have that novel inside me. I’m not sure I have a novel inside me at *all* right now in my life, and that’s the most disturbing bit of all. Nancy without a novel inside of her.

I’ve considered doing 30 unrelated original fic shorts a day like I did in April, but most of those were really teh suck. Just me being lost and meandering and poking around for a story inside me that’s not there.

I’ve considered trying my hand at short story writing, because hey! then you can actually let people in RL read something self-contained that you wrote and thereby prove to them you actually really *are* a writer. The mere idea of short stories, though, makes me feel utterly claustrophobic.

So what to do, then? This isn’t writer’s block. Or not what most people think of as writer’s block. Since I got back from my vacation, I’ve belted out two rather complex fan fic episodes and have ideas for upcoming ones. Words on page=not a problem.

The problem, I suppose, is not knowing what I want to say anymore. Writing a novel–writing any form of fiction–is always a process of having something you want to say and express, and at the moment in my life, I’m in a very *weird* place. It’s sort of dark, but not in a negative way, necessarily, more in a “fuck it all, I’m going to take a stroll into the dark hollow of the woods just to see what’s there and who cares if it’s evil/dangerous/kinky/skanky/bad for me/messed up because I’m just feeling *that* nihilistic.” Or maybe not nihilistic. Maybe bored. Or fed up. Or…

Huh. I just realized that’s what I’ve been doing with Connor over on TD.

When I say that that (the above) is “not negative”, I mean I am inherently not a negative person and find my current state of mind sort of intriguing. Like, “I should *do* something with this” intriguing. Something fictional, of course.

5 Responses to “More NaNoWriMo ponderings…and ponderings on my fiction writing in general”

  1. ramblecrazed October 11, 2006 at 7:38 pm #

    *
    Totally understand where you’re coming from.
    Same thing here w/me, just in graphics form.
    For you to be writing,
    For me to be painting,
    helped to define *who* I believed I was.
    I’m no longer that same person.
    It’s difficult to deal with.
    Perhaps we shall reinvent ourselves?
    I know I’ll have to start all over,
    it’s been that long..
    *

  2. atpo_onm October 11, 2006 at 8:27 pm #

    The problem, I suppose, is not knowing what I want to say anymore.
    I don’t think you can do much to help this, it’s something that just happens, and happens to a lot of people (certainly including myself, and certainly not being limited to the pursuit of writing). I just go on to do other stuff for a period of time, and if the muse returns, she returns.
    T’was not always so, but these days I’m satisfied with the approach, because I thought that I had lost my photographer’s eye after my mid 20’s, but then a year ago it came back. While I haven’t actively pursued this re-aquisition, what mattered is that it did come back at all.
    Anyway, I am curious if you could elaborate on why short stories are “claustrophobia-inducing” for you. Most things in life are short, including the stories, and they’re potentially no less memorable for it. Do you find the format inherently constraining or limiting in some way?
    As I said, just curious.

  3. neshaffer October 11, 2006 at 8:35 pm #

    I like a broad canvas. I can’t write one 5,000-word fan fic about Angel for example; I have to write/serve as producer to an entire season of Angel. If I attempt to write a short-story, there will be a sequel. And a sequel to the sequel. And a sequel to the sequel to the sequel. The only exception to this would be if a story had me *so* bored in mid-stream it was all I could do to finish it at all.
    I try to start short stories, but knowing I have to say everything in say, 5,000 words and be done with it usually creates an ennui in me that does not allow the story to start. I literally feel that squeeze of panic a claustraphobic feels in a small room.

  4. ann1962 October 11, 2006 at 8:59 pm #

    You do the longer format really very well. You see big pictures very clearly. Maybe you need to find another route to do that.
    just to see what’s there and who cares if it’s evil/dangerous/kinky/skanky/bad for me/messed up because I’m just feeling *that* nihilistic.” Or maybe not nihilistic. Maybe bored. Or fed up. Or…
    Huh. I just realized that’s what I’ve been doing with Connor over on TD.

    I don’t think you ought to fight what you do well by doing something else unless you want to. But since you aren’t satisfied, this resting time might be building to the new thing. Whatever that is. Whether Nanowrimo will help or not, I don’t know. I was surprised by my Napowrimo. Maybe it would be good for you.
    It won’t be rushed, no matter how much you want to find the new thing. Maybe the energy of the evil/dangerous/kinky/skanky/bad, is leading you to the big new world you haven’t envisioned yet. But only if you want to go. My only suggestion is to keep writing something, anything, in the meantime.

  5. neshaffer October 11, 2006 at 9:07 pm #

    Maybe the energy of the evil/dangerous/kinky/skanky/bad, is leading you to the big new world you haven’t envisioned yet.
    That’s why I’m saying it’s not a negative thing. It’s come from negative experiences in my RL, but artistically, this mood of mine is not a bad thing and is there to be harnessed, if I could only figure out how. And I do mean “how” as *original* fiction. In the mean time, all I have is TD as a venue for expressing my mood, and that has certain boundaries (e.g., I will never take Connor to so dark a place he can’t get out, etc.)

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