30 Days of NaNowriMo – Day 10: A Stark Contrast

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.10.14Where I Wrote: Loreto Playground in the Bronx, a tiny park that’s tucked into the suburbs and not easily accessible from any train.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really, really good. I did not make quota today, but, after Day 9’s lesson, I immediately made the changes to the sneaking segment I mentioned yesterday without waiting to get back around to it in an edit. The result was a clean, efficient editing session with a bit of progress thrown in, ending right at a fight scene.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Optimistic. I hadn’t planned for a session that was largely editing, but then, I didn’t have much of a plan to begin with. After yesterday, I realize I don’t really need one.

The Experience: I woke up refreshed today. Well, in a writing sense; physically, my back was killing me, but that was only for a short while–an ache that a few runs of Isaac and the rest of my easy-going morning routine sorted out.

By the time I headed out, it was much later than usual. But that was intentional; I’d already decided that today would be low impact on my wallet, meaning I was sticking to the Bronx.
Thus, the choice of my writing location, Loreto Playground. It immediately sounds like a much weirder choice of writing spot than it is; I was not sitting in a playground meant just for kids, stupidly trying to ignore all of them screaming and (in my imagination) throwing things at each other and hitting me instead–constantly. No, Loreto is actually a park here in the Bronx, small and sequestered in the Van Nest area. In my youth, I walked by this park a ton on my way to a nearby Blockbuster (dating myself). It wasn’t until recently that I actually sat down here, in a part of the park with a large ski ball track (I… think?) and chess/checker tables where I’ve only ever seen seniors.


When I got here, the same bench and checkered table where I sat the first time was unoccupied, making for an easy, comfortable writing session. The only problem was needing a bathroom; the entire area is residential, so I wound up walking to Einstein Hospital, a solid 15 minutes away. Somehow, I expected to have to argue about using the bathroom (the kind of weird assumption that would’ve driven me home months ago).

But, of course, I didn’t have to argue. Why did I think I’d have to point out, “A potty emergency is still an emergency!” when I got to their ER entrance? I wound up thinking about this on my way back to Loreto (the first time this month that I’ve actually migrated back to the place I started).

To be honest, that was the majority of the day, actually. When I sat down at Loreto, I wound up thinking about how I felt the first time I sat there, months previous. I’d been nervous and awkward. And really unhappy. Back then, I had the very tablet I used today and I’d set it up on the same table, deciding to punch out a quick poem or two to kill the time. Without researching word processing apps or having an idea what I would even write about. In essence, not really sure what I was doing at all. It’s such a strange, stark contrast to how I feel now. Back then, I even had the idea for Memory–roughly the same collection of plot points that I brought to November 1st.

I hate hearing people say, “All you need to do is start!” because I’ve never felt that’s fair. It assumes that everyone’s lives are similar; that people are stupid cows who would just be able to be happy or lose weight or do anything else if they just decide to stop being stupid cows and clumsily paw that light switch on. No–it takes more than that. Pretending that there isn’t is no different from telling a poor person, “Well just… invest, stupid!” It’s never that simple. For me, there was a ton of emotional baggage that weighed me down. It took a wealth of experience–good, healthy experience–between then and now to bridge the motivation gap.

And that’s what I can say without regret. That you won’t find that bridge–won’t find a way to be motivated to write or lose weight or do anything–until you work on making the elements of your life better. If I had to make up a term for it, I’d call it Happiness Base Zero (not unlike Beauty Base Zero), a foundation that you boil yourself down to, secure enough that you can actually build on top of it.

I’m no psychologist (I am actually laughing at the thought right now), but if you’re in a rut, consider finding Happiness Base Zero. Consider cutting removing the elements in your life that stress you out and upset you. Try to accept those things that you can’t get rid of. Make yourself happy.

And then, maybe, when you’re ready, make yourself write.

Published by

Louis Santiago

I'm a fantasy writer based in New York. One of my short stories, "Aixa the Hexcaster," was published at Mirror Dance Fantasy. You can read it here: http://www.mirrordancefantasy.com/2016/09/aixa-hexcaster.html.

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