When I was in elementary school, middle school and high school I tried almost every sport. I tried gymnastics and baton twirling and softball. I joined an Odyssey of the Mind Group. Nothing stuck until I started to dance. And from then on I mostly danced up to three (four, five in college) days a week I put on my jazz shoes and let the music take over.
And last year I rejoined dance for the first time in eight years. I performed on stage in may. I love it. Love it. And then this year, I don’t know. What happened? All of these outside influences made it so I couldn’t love it. Not right now, at least. It hurt to dance too much and too hard once a week, I have homework coming out of my ears sometimes, I have other engagements, I was working forty-four hours a week and sometimes interning.
So I quit. Hopefully it’s a temporary thing. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it but I haven’t had the time to.
I’ve been writing since second grade when we rewrote our own versions of children’s books on old green screened computers. I’ve been writing stories, poetry, blogs, newsletters, any words could come out, they would. And in college I concentrated my English degree on Writing. I signed up for National Novel Writing Month my sophomore year and completed it. 50,000 words in 30 days. Done. And then the years in between I tried and failed, I forgot to try, I wrote a novel with my friend during the summer and NaNo didn’t seem right. Three Novembers ago I started again, determined to work on a story my writing hero FLB found “charming”. I wrote the story, I won. Last year I did it again, deeming myself a “rebel” by working on the same story. I changed things, deleted characters and played with POV. I won. Again. Despite the fact that I was dancing, working a LOT and taking two graduate level classes. I still did it.
That brings me here right now to this year, 2013. I cut out the internship that I loved but couldn’t keep doing with everything else, I cut out dancing because I couldn’t love it. I started as a rebel again, working on the same story for the third year in a row. I quickly realized I don’t have enough left to write of this story. I felt stalled. So the other day I decided to keep that word count and start a new story, once again being a NaNo rebel by working on something I thought about starting over the summer and never really committed to.
But what do you do when you feel like words just aren’t there? When you know the story but can’t figure out how to put that into words? How do you explain that you just don’t love what you are trying to do? You can’t find the excitement that should be there when writing a novel. I had warned that I would be cranky this year. (Last year I had a meltdown when I missed a doctors appointment in November because I was so frustrated with doctors and appointments and also over worked and really tired and pushing myself too much). But I hardly even feel cranky. I just feel down. Defeated. Like my ink is dry.
Maybe once upon a time this would have scared me, but I know I’m a writer through-and-through. I know the words will come back in other ways or maybe this story isn’t meant to be told right now. I know that I can work on editing the novel I already have and love, I can focus on other forms of creativity to shift my mind. I can do something, or something will come to me. I can just Instagram pictures for days and still consider that photography/ creativity because is it.
But quit National Novel Writing Month? After I’ve made it into a big deal? After I told Francesca Lia Block I was finishing my story this month? After I made up some awesome incentives for finishing? I don’t know.
I’m not too far behind, only 9000 words shy of where I want to be. And there have been times when I could make up for that in three days. But this isn’t one of those times. This is one of those times where I just can’t move forward, the well is dry. I’m rubbing semi damp clay on my skin and hoping it turns to henna. I’m fantasizing about rushing through this month just so I can breathe again. And that’s not what NaNoWriMo is about.
Sure, it’s a challenge. But it’s not meant to feel impossible. It’s not meant to hold your mind and your words hostage. That’s just too much pressure.
So. What if I quit? If I say “Goodbye” to trying to crank out 2000+ words a day and feeling bad that I’m so far behind (When this race is only against myself)? What if I say “Good job” for the 18k words that I wrote in the last two weeks, knowing they won’t be the last but they may not grow too much for the rest of this month.