30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 16: A Great Imbalance

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.16.14Where I Wrote: Pelham Parkway, just off of White Plains Rd. in the Bronx.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Strange. Exhausted. The bad news: Today was the very first time I wrote something super hurriedly and then got stuck because it came out completely wrong. The good news: I know exactly how to fix it and I fully intend to actually cheat a little tonight (I didn’t last night) and at least get what I wrote in order (literally–I very quickly wrote a few segments of a single event in a bizarre order and need to adjust it). All of that said, I’m genuinely surprised that I met my quota for the day.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Anxious and reluctant, unfortunately. I’ve had my days when I needed extra time for work, but today was probably the most intense. I really didn’t want to stay in the Bronx today or, at the very least, I wanted to visit a slightly more interesting part of it (although Pelham Parkway turned out to be pleasant), but I just couldn’t take a chance on work hours tonight (and I’m glad I didn’t).

The Experience: Today was a stern lesson on balancing my time.

I’ve always known it was a struggle to juggle work and writing. It’s probably the primary struggle of writing–at the very least, it’s in the same pantheon of Writer Struggles as Motivational Problems and Writer’s Block. Typically, you go to work, come home, and you’re too tired to write. I was all about this problem for years.

Of course, now I have a way more flexible job. So, why the trouble? NaNoWriMo. I don’t want to antagonize the challenge at all, so I’ll specify that the trouble has been my inability to balance NaNoWriMo with work. In the Work VS Writing power struggle, NaNoWriMo has clearly won in a totally backwards way; now I go out every day, put in a surprisingly constant amount of hours at my tablet, punch out when my brain tells me I’ve put in enough work, and then come home too tired to work work. At least too tired to work well (my job is really, really intense about performance evaluation).

Today was the tipping point for that problem. It’s been too easy to think, “I’ll put in more/some hours tomorrow,” every day until I reach days like today, when I get up, look at the time, and realize, Fuck… I seriously can’t go to Manhattan again.

Particularly bad because, in truth, I didn’t even want to go to Pelham Parkway, a place where I have truly ancient memories and little else.


It’s not that it isn’t nice; it’s actually pleasant–maybe even pretty for an expanse of greenery lined with roads. It’s not that there aren’t places to purchase coffee, but it is one of those strange places between places; I’ve rode through countless times on my way to different schools, hospitals, shopping centers. Probably any other mundane location I could possibly think of. And, like Loreto Playground from Day 10, it’s surrounded by residential areas, meaning there are no public restrooms there. It is, I suppose I could say, totally unremarkable. A last ditch choice on a day when I wish I had more time for anywhere else.

Somehow, I managed to knock out my quota at these benches and another a block or two away, where two lone tables caught every cold breeze that came off of the cars driving past. In summer, perhaps, this place would be fantastic. But today, it was cold and distracting. I was able to get a lot of words down, but they were massively flawed and demand instant attention or I’m in danger of forgetting a small, pivotal details of their fix.

All of this because I had to rush. Because I didn’t balance writing and work. I don’t want to go on about this, but I give it so much weight here because I officially can’t say, “I’ll go somewhere in the Bronx then!” ever again. I have not run out of locations in Manhattan, but the only three options I have left in the Bronx are wildly time-based; I will need to be up early and spend a full day at all three (likely), and of those three, I only actually want to write at one of them.

That means I absolutely must balance things out. I have to get into the groove of the Everwork, an uncomfortable, video game-less place where I constantly remind myself, “Bills are coming.”

Which means that next week is going to be all about the balance–another facet of the challenge tacked on. I don’t know if it’s writing about it here or the fact that I’m working this out for NaNoWriMo and Memory’s sake, but no matter what it is…

… I’m feeling preeeetty sure I can kick this challenge’s ass.

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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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