Sometimes, the world gets so hectic that it seems like the moment you stop the whole thing will fall over. Which would be bad, since the whole spinning thing is what keeps us on the planet and not drifting in space. Or so I’m told anyway.
The point is that movement, even movement that isn’t immediately obvious, is a necessary part of the world and sometimes it’s all you can do to go with it.
Sometimes the movement is external, sometimes it’s internal. The external can be a help or hinderance, as Camp NaNoWriMo is proving on a daily basis. It gives context and goals, and accountability. Personally, I need those to get anything done.
Internal movement can be much harder to recognise. Here’s a trick I’ve found that helps. Take a moment to be still, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Breathe right down into your stomach, put your hand on there if it helps, and let the breath out softly. After a few of those, quietly ask what you feel you should be doing instead of breathing. I should be writing, my breathing tells me. Reading resources for my thesis. Going for a walk. Cooking. Working out what to do with my life as a grown up person, theoretical grown up person at any rate. As each one builds, I let it come to me on the inhale, and let it go on the exhale. Yes, I do need to do those things. No doubt there. But I can’t do them all at the same time! That would be risking an injury at the very least.
So I breathe, consciously, for a few minutes. And then I write out a list, while making sure I keep deep breathing and not that shallow, panicky breath that usually comes with facing the hard and scary things like lists. Then I breathe some more, and break the list down into little things.
This blog post was on my list, and I’ve written the whole thing taking deliberate deep breaths. After all, it’s nearly the end of July, and I have a lot to do yet.
Good thing there are some days left, and plenty of time to breathe.
And pat dogs, because pets make everything better!
There is something to be said for pushing on regardless.
This is particularly true of NaNo. Which I should have remembered instead of whining that my story was terrible.
Of course this story is terrible, it’s a NaNo, that is exactly what it’s supposed to do. This is not a story that will sparkle and gleam as soon as it hits paper, it’s going to be messy and unbalanced and about something I never intended or realised when I wrote it. That is the glory of NaNo.
The best bit, however, is the use of the fabulous trick of ‘the general idea goes here and stuff happens and then we get to a bit I actually know’. All those bits I don’t know how to get to, I can skip the bits I don’t know and it still counts! Yes, I will have to make up the words later, but given my appalling progress this far, I think anything will be better than what I have so far.
Time to knuckle down, and get to work. This week will be hard, but it will be worth it.
Week 4, we’ve got a lot to get done, so I’m planning to meet you running.
There is a reason it’s been so long since my last journal entry on this project.
I haven’t done much.
Honestly, that’s what’s happened. I though July would be an awesome time to actually get my head back in the productive space, but apparently July and I have other ideas.
The story, because of a few things that have to go in to make it work, has been really hard for me to really think about. However, despite not wanting to write about the things that come up, I know I need to. I would be able to do something in my usual genre otherwise.
On the good news: I managed to get what feels like a chapter done! Which is brilliant considering how much I haven’t been doing. Which means that I have somewhere to start, and a character who has left a note in the letterbox. Because that’s what she did…
The bad news: I have to get back to doing uni work in a serious kind of way. Assessment time is going to leap up and try and kill me if I don’t do the work, so that has to come first.
The Ugly: I’ve managed to make myself sick, somehow. Nothing serious enough to actually go to the doctor about, just the kind of sick you get when you’re overtired. Unless you have some magic way of not getting sick when you’re overtired. Or not get overtired. I need to work on that…
The hopeful: There are still some days left in July. I can do this!
And because I should keep a note of her somewhere. meet the letterbox messenger sender!
Casey: 16yro, with older and younger siblings, she goes to the local high school and walks up the road from her house to the bus, which takes her straight past Alicia’s. She’s a pretty friendly girl, though she doesn’t really have close friends at school. She wants to do something with horses or animals when she grows up, but that means getting through the next two years of school well enough to get into uni. She loves her family, and doesn’t really want to move, which makes her that much different from the other kids she goes to school with.
Today has been a surprisingly good day, for me and That Story. Much thanks for that must go to the comment I got on yesterday’s blog. Thank you!
I actually managed to get some words done, not that it’s reflected on my Camp word count at this stage. This, I have discovered, is what train trips to uni are for. And from uni, if I can get a seat.
Someone very much wiser pointed out to me that I was looking at the story all wrong, and what I should be looking for was ways to draw out tension and drama since I’m not used to the genre. Which, really, makes a lot of sense.
And on the way home, I encountered a rather interesting individual:
Jessica Kelly; Alicia’s older sister. She lives in the city with her boyfriend, and is making a niche for herself in marketing and PR. Ambitious, gregarious, she’s always tried to look after her little sister, but sometimes it can be very difficult to figure out what that is, so it’s much easier to just make her laugh and then that’ll make everything better. Determined to find the up side, because practice makes her job easier, Jess keeps in contact with her sister as much as she can around work, and her boyfriend. She’s thinking about buying an inner city flat, with her boyfriend, but she’s not sure about it. There is something in the wind with this one.
Now I have two characters! And we’re only in Week One! Good news!
This is the first journal entry for this project. Honestly, this project isn’t going well at all. At three days into Camp Nano, I should be able to bring myself to write some words, any words, but instead I am struggling to put anything down at all. Not entirely surprising considering that the only project I can think of is pretty terrible.
I am not a brilliant creative mind, I have no illusions on that score, but I do normally pride myself on having stories with a bit of meat in them from the get go, something to explore and push and shape.
That Story is not one of those pieces. It is awful, even as a concept. I can write more about it in a rant than I can bring myself to put down on paper.
But, this is Camp. So, without further ado, here is a little about the main character of this terrible effort.
Alicia Kelly is 23, and suffers from a medical condition that has baffled her doctors over the last few years. None of the treatments have worked, and her only option is to move to the country and see if that helps. Her parents have secured her a small farmhouse just outside a country town, in the hopes that it will make it easier for her to get better. Alicia, unable to think of anything else that might work, has just moved in, and the task of making herself at home in the middle of nowhere for the next year is all the more daunting now that her boyfriend has confirmed what she knew was coming. He won’t be moving with her, and perhaps they should take a break. Never one to want pity, Alicia got him to say what he really meant, and they’re no longer an item. She misses having someone there for her, but the things he said haunt her and make her both glad and despondent. Who, honestly, would want someone who can barely get out of bed some days as a romantic partner? There are sacrifices made in all relationships, but not having a bright, happy partner on his arm was too much for her now ex. Alicia is left to unpack the boxes of non-essential things alone.
If it’s not immediately obvious why this story is terrible, it should get clearer over Camp.
Maybe if I write some today, tomorrow will feel better. We’ll just have to see.