It’s Friday night. Some people are out drinking or dancing or having some sort of good time with friends, but I’m having my own good time, alone, listening to the Dresden Dolls on repeat and searching through all my writing to find a particular scene I wrote maybe four years ago that I just can’t get out of my head.
Because I’m a writer, and sometimes that means doing crazy things.
I hardly slept last night, and when I did I dreamed that I was riding a skateboard, so this probably won’t be my most eloquent post, but I’m starting to think that’s okay. I’ve had a hard time coming up with blogs recently, but perhaps tonight I have the right mix of sleepiness and awe in the everyday to put some thoughts together. I never got around to sharing my thoughts about NaNoWriMo, but this is what happened:
I wrote and wrote and kept writing. I spent my free time huddled at the library or writing on the T or curled up in the living room, scribbling away until I had to leave for work.
I wrote until I could distinguish the difference in texture between paper that had been written on and paper that was clean. I wrote until my hands hurt.
Sometimes they still hurt, aching in a way that had never happened until November.
I know it was national novel writing month, but my final 50k+ words hardly followed a single narrative arc. Maybe that can be my goal for next year. What I came up with was raw material. Images and voices and stories that used to interrupt me daily; faint scents that would entice my imagination just long enough for me to say– I need to write this down— but never long enough for me to get it down on paper.
Trying to meet my word count, I finally got to clear my head of all these thoughts.
Then the holidays happened, and 2014 started, and my head is getting all muddled up again with another layer of ideas now that the first one has been written out of the way.
But that’s the way it goes.
It’s been a long time– two years– since I started new work, and I’d forgotten what it’s like to be floating, not yet anchored to a single project but tethered to a bunch, all saplings (or maybe seeds) that may or may not have what it takes to become something more. I had forgotten that aspect of writing, the early stages, where everything feels like it matters and must not go wasted. When I stepped away from my NaNo project, I realized a lot of it could be cut, leaving a couple of meaningful stories and characters who I’d want to spend some more time with.
The amazing thing about writing– or creativity– is that I haven’t stopped learning new things. From writing a book, to starting something new, my art has taught me a valuable life lesson: Your time is precious.
I used to spend a lot of time thinking about balance but never really getting a chance to maintain any sort of feeling of actual balance and not really knowing why. I’d ponder these things and write my to-do lists and scramble around, feeling stressed, wanting to become this idea of what a writer– an author– should be.
All my 2013 calendars and to-do lists expired and I had been planning on getting new ones for 2014, but then I said, Don’t. I didn’t get my usual moleskin calendar/wall calendar/to-do list combo, I’m just riding on my gut and an occasional post-it. At first, this was terrifying. What if I forgot something? What if I drop the ball and everything I’ve worked for so far crumbles apart?
My mother might say: Well, then it wasn’t that real to begin with anyway.
But something happened: that balance I’ve yearned for is starting to happen. I spend some time writing, and some time reading novels and studying short stories. I’ve been going to more readings and also spending time with friends and family– and my very patient husband. I’ve been drawing and walking and doing yoga and visiting thrift stores and home-making and just being a regular person. I stopped trying to force the writing life on myself, and started living a writing life.
This isn’t to say I don’t wish for more time, because I do.
But mostly, I’m just enjoying the time I have.
P.S. Here’s the particular Dresden Dolls song I have on repeat, Dirty Business. This song brings me back to working at dark cafe and drinking too much coffee, wondering what was going to happen next.