This year, I didn’t officially do Camp. I used it as a reason to get myself motivated and see what was going on with my writing process. This July, the process was more important than the product, albeit the product would be vomit copy, so I didn’t feel it would be wise to add the pressure of hitting word count to my already rather eclectic collection of shiny worries.
Instead, I focused on taking my writing right back to the start. I wrote in the genre I had become comfortable in before I started to think about creating original works. I wrote fanfiction. It was all set in the world a friend had created, so it wasn’t real fanfiction, but it was the best compromise I could come up with. My favourite texts to explore have pretty much been covered thoroughly by their creators, making the fanfiction side of things much harder than making a new world. This is what happens when the world is complex and detailed, and the characters are doing what they were always going to do because of who they are. The consequences are impressive worlds that could hold many stories, but feel filled out and complete to me. I am sure there are other people who could throw their hat in the ring and write some amazing pieces in those worlds. I am not one of them.
At the end of the month, I have four ‘short’ stories, four blog posts, and a plethora of words. It is much better than I hoped.
I have also discovered the peculiar thing my writing is doing that has left me at a loss for so long. The ideas are fading much more quickly than they used to. The inspiring ideas are fleeting shadows, and if I am to use them I have to act in the moment they appear or lose them to the rush and movement of the day. Sometimes I have seconds to capture the idea, sometimes I have a few hours, but they do not stay with me for days as they used to.
Once the idea is caught, it begins to slip away. They are intangible, after all, and they have become much more so than I had been used to. It has become hard work to keep the idea long enough to get it down in words. Heaven help me if it shifts into something bigger and deeper than I had expected initially, as the core of the idea fades at the same rate it would if I was only getting down the core of it. I have no time for side plots. Character development must be for later me to do. There is no time to get the dialogue even close to right, no time for unnecessary descriptions. Sometimes, there is not even time to name key characters in the narrative.
Once the words are down, the story told from the beginning to the end of the original idea, then the next idea may come. It may not, it really depends on how the idea is feeling when I finish, I suppose. That is as usual, though the gap between ideas has been longer than in the past. While I go through phases of not writing, of being so stressed I am completely uninspired, this is a different feeling altogether. Which I am yet to explain in words that make sense even to me.
Camp NaNoWriMo has shown me that I have not lost the ability to get ideas. I can still lure them out of the world and coax them into being stories for me. What I struggle with is to keep them long enough to do so. I am going to try and use this to my advantage somehow. My current plan is to use these inspired moments to make brief sketches of the story, short lines on the page that capture the essence of what is there without the complex detail. It is, in my head, a version of plotting. Of course, I have struggled so much with that in the past, I have given it more names than it needed. But it is worth a shot. I may even write those plots by hand, going right back to the start of my relationship with writing.
Back to the beginning to learn it all anew.
Here is a cute picture, because that makes things seem much less difficult.