Friday, November 25, 2016

Writer's Block: Funky Depression Pt 1: Thanksgiving & NaNoWriMo

I don’t even know how it happened. I was starting on the story of the two brothers, which was giving me lots of good progress – for every scene I wrote, a dozen or more questions would present themselves. I can take those questions to Dad and his cousins, Tina and Joan, for more interview material. I want to get this story written, for sure. This is the historical fiction book I've been preparing to write for over a year, based on my grandfather and great-uncle as teenagers. I threw caution to the wind and decided to make this my NaNoWriMo 2016 Project.

But, then, the election hit. I sat up watching the horrific results roll in, triggering a PTSD-like shock and semi-catatonic response. For days, I drank and scrolled though the feeds. Article after article, report after report, my depression was deep and hopeless. I vacillated between thoughts of suicide, homicide, withdrawal and action. I was unmotivated to write, unmotivated to create…just wanted to turn back in time, but that was not possible. I was not alone; many people were going through similar stages of grief and emotional response, many of them also white, American women - those of us that did not cast those silent votes for neo-nazism. But, this is not about those details; this is about how I, as a writer and artist, respond.

I started writing about it. That became Project number two, a wandering collection of thoughts and essays that I hoped would help me sort out my feelings and formulate a response. I wanted to – and still do– keep the momentum for progressive and proactive action. I thought about starting a support group for progressive writers and artists, or healers, some sort of community action group. Still thinking that, actually. I have an ongoing list of acronyms and mission statements towards that purpose.

And yet. Two weeks have passed, with no words added to my nano count. Traditionally, I sit at my mother-in-law’s table after Turkey dinner on Thanskgiving and power through several thousand words. So, here I sit. I wrote 52 words on my original HF novel, Baltimore Boys. Felt stilted and ridiculous. I started a blog post, felt disconnected there, too. So I randomly wrote 1100 words about a woman and a horse on a ranch. I have no idea what the heck that is, or will be.

I am looking at a low battery and 5481 words to write each day for the next seven days in order to finish on time. Will I? Should I? Do I commit to one of these projects or do I focus on other evils at hand? I am not sure, but I must write this week, and that is a fact.

There is the story of the Rule Breakers. The Rule in NaNoWriMo is that you write a complete novel, fresh, perhaps using pre-prepared notes and character drafts, etc, but beginning to end a fresh new novel. If you decide to write something else, you are a Rule Breaker – a collection of esssays or short stories, a play, a revision of an earlier work, a nonfiction book of some type…these are allowed – anything is allowed, but against the stream of the intention of the project.

By going into two or even three possible projects, I may have been able to call myself a Rule Breaker, this year, but I won’t do that unless I actually make some damn progress this week. Serious word count – not just words on a page, which a lot of this is, but something to work with. Some pile of raw clay to be molded and shaped into something readable, publishable, workable. So tired of this wallowing, aimless feeling when it comes to these NaNo projects. I have not felt the fire of fiction since 2011’s novel, HISMZA. My memoir project has fire, but it burns me out, limiting my ability to work actively on it. It is intense, and I am uncertain of its final shape and form, which is exhilarating yet terrifying, as expected.

So, I continue to vent - stream-of-consciousness writing - in the hopes of spewing the dregs and uncovering the gems. 

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