I have less than 5,000 words to go for NaNoWriMo and I realize I may not be anywhere near the end of my story. Or maybe nowhere near tying in the end, since two weeks ago I wrote a conclusion portion that may or may not fit with where the story is now going.
The thing is, I write in snippets. I don’t plan everything to the letter. Even when I do have a plan in mind, I don’t often stick 100% to the plan. Sticking to close to a plan makes me feel confined, restricted. There is no fun if I’m just check marking everything off a list.
Yet at the same time, an outline helps keep me on task. Without one it feels like I’m floundering in too many possibilities, and that easily becomes overwhelming.
You see, I am not one for extremes. I like my comfortable, safe middle: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. I do not want to be constrained but if there are no boundaries and everything is left up to me, I may whimper in confusion and then despair. (Whimper may be a bit much, but choices are difficult when you’re indecisive.)
I am not a risk taker by nature. I like the middle ground.
But life means taking risks, and when you’re an author writing about the life of characters, there has to be some risk involved.
So it should come as no surprise that I have a difficult time writing plot, conflict, and climax. I may be more willing to imagine crazier things in my head for fiction than I am for myself in real life, but I still hesitate to commit that to paper/Word Doc. And that does not make for an interesting story.
In an interview, Guillermo del Toro talks about how the best children stories have some darkness too them. I agree with that. My favorite Disney movies kind of terrified me when I was younger, but they also intrigued me and stuck with me so that they are my favorites to go back to even now. I think that mystery and darkness can contain deeper truths, truths that I identify with now in adulthood and I was only begin to grasp but yet still connected with on some level when I was five.
And I think that can apply to story in general, not just children’s stories. There must be some darkness to get somewhere. Everything cannot be perfect or there would be no where to go. There is no story if there is no risk involved.
So what does an author like me do who loves to read good conflict but hates writing it?
Well, I practice.
Because the thing is, sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get a good amount of tension in a story that makes for a compelling read. The tension is usually psychological in nature. (Which makes sense. Reading this blog, knowing me, you must see how much time I spend in my head dealing with my own psychological conundrums.) So maybe it’s not action packed all the time, but it is a story. And it only comes about when I keep working at it, moving past all the things (including myself) that say to give up.
So this November, my first NaNoWriMo, has been good practice for getting what comes in to my head out in some creative form. Not many months ago I was despairing that I could even be an author, that my stories would never be good enough. Now I’m producing 50K words. Those words may not make up a complete story free of plot holes, but it is a step in the right direction. Because what’s worse: to not do anything or to try and then try again?
I now have something to work with and I see that I can be creative if I let myself. And this whole month was a challenge in itself, so I’ve already gotten over some hurdles in my my way to getting better. I can keep practicing my craft, see where I get. At least I have words now. And in this last bout of creativity before November closes, perhaps I can continue to put more into the story, more conflict, climax, and then resolution.
Maybe I’ll surprise myself these next two days. But at least I’ve surprised myself in getting this far.
So T-minus a few days to go!
But enough blogging. Back to NaNoWriMo-ing.