Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What I learned in the month of February

As you may have noticed, I disappeared during the second half of February.

Sorry about that.

What you may be wondering is "why?"

Well, I talked briefly about it here, but I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about it independent of any other matter. So if you don't want to read the self-absorbed ramblings of a discouraged loner, then I suggest you move on to the next post. (If you do want to read the self-absorbed ramblings of a discouraged loner... what the hell is wrong with you? Creeper.)

Moving right along.

You see, I came very, very close to giving up on writing. It's hard for me to understand why, sitting where I am now. It was hard for me to understand why while I was in the midst of the doubt, but all I know is that I seriously questioned the purpose behind the daily grind that I have chosen to put myself through.

It didn't help that I was/am isolated from the majority of my friends and family, my easy access to books, and a supportive community for gaming. All of the things that usually remind me of how great this art form is, and how much I can do with it, are absent. These are all elements of my life that enhance my perception of the written word, both as a craft and as a life style, and I have been forced to embrace writing in its rawest form without them around me.

In short, and absent poetical terms, my writing almost ate me. Not consumed, in that I became nothing but the writing -- though that may have been a related danger -- but like a spiny beast it cornered me in a subtle ambush and demanded to know if either of us were worth it.

The spiny beast made me think that my ideas are crap and don't deserve to see themselves written down, much less put into publication. In turn, I convinced the spiny beast that it isn't worth the daily sacrifices that I have to make to live with it. Like a squabbling couple immediately before a messy divorce, craft and craftsman both thought the world was better off without the other.

Fortunately, as far as I'm concerned, we're both too stubborn for our own good. Neither of us agreed to roll over and die, so we persevered. It took a long time and a lot of mental energy and disappointment. But the result of our hard work is apparent in what we have learned and overcome together in these last days of February.

To be a bit more clear:

-I have learned that if I don't get a start on my writing in the morning, the chances that I won't get any writing done at all increase exponentially.
-I have learned that if I do get a start on my writing in the morning, it's likely that I'll exceed my writing goals for the day.
-I have broken down what seems like dozens of mental barriers in the past three days. I never thought I would be able to write more than a thousand words per day before NaNo. Then I never thought I'd be able to write more than two thousand words per day before January. As a result of February: I'm aiming to write over four thousand words per day, just to see if I can keep it up.
-I am learning, slowly, to press on through my doubt, because the writing does get better and the story does come together eventually and the characters really aren't as flat and lifeless as you thought (even if they will look that way when you start your rewrite).
-I am learning, slowly, to forgive myself and get over my disappointment when I fail to be as productive as I think I "need" to be. Beating myself up about my writing only makes it harder to get started the next day, and it prevents me from enjoying time to myself (without the writing) and time with my friends and family.

Okay, that's all. Thank you for bearing with me through all of that. A rough month is behind us now. Let's hope that that's the worst of it for a while.

I promise to be a bit more upbeat in the future (or at least to avoid wallowing about myself.)

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