30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 21: The Bizarre Act of Writing in the Past

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.21.14Where I Wrote: TKettle on St. Mark’s Place.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Good enough that it kind of worried me. I felt like today’s session should’ve been harder because it’s not something I’ve pulled off before. However, it went well.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Good. It was another day completely lacking in bullshit and mistakes. I did have a really, really weird dream that might become another story, but ultimately, good.

The Experience: TKettle is a weird little place. They specialize in bubble tea, something I enjoy every so often. That isn’t what makes them weird though.

What makes them weird are all of the small things that make me gravitate back there, repeatedly. There’s the general… disrepair of the place. The graffiti on the bathroom mirror. The dirty window in the back, two curtains trying and failing to cover it up, creating a stark contrast to the locale’s general brightness.


There’s also this long hallway that completely splits its two seating areas. There’s the one in front, where social people almost automatically sit down and chat. And then there’s the one in back (pictured above), still colorful and inviting but… tucked down a long hallway.

Easily the thing I love the most about this place is how rarely anyone uses that backroom. Maybe I’ve only come at weird times, but regardless, I’ve never come at a time when TKettle was jam packed. That absolutely makes me question their food, but as their bubble tea is made right in front of you at the very front of the shop, it at least feels like a safe choice for the writer in need of a pit stop. A pit stop that has a 90% chance of being solitary and relatively quiet.

Thus why I abandoned plans to go to the coffee shop I’ve been meaning to try, and decided to go to TKettle instead the moment I remembered it. I walked by said coffee place and it looked awesome.

But today was not a day for random variables. After Day 20’s nonstop nonsense, today was a day for getting work done.

I got a red bean bubble tea–the strangely lasting meal of the bubble teas–and got to work.

Work writing completely in the past–something I’ve never done successfully because I’ve never written a project as quickly as I’ve written Memory. I have tried–with the first version of War of Exiles–and have, repeatedly, butchered the tone and pacing.

But, as seems to consistently be the case with NaNoWriMo, the old writing hurdle that I used to struggle with just wasn’t there today. Instead of hastily rereading a scene I wrote months previous and trying to remember every tiny nuance and emotion my characters sported at that moment in the plot, I just… remembered, clearly, how my protagonists felt in Memory. Because I believe that today I picked up… where I left off on Day 13, just barely over a week ago.

Picking up from there was smooth. Too smooth. Easy enough that it definitely kind of worried me. Easy enough that I was on red alert for padding–a good thing as I stopped the moment I stopped being inspired to started filling out my scenes with nonsense to hit the NaNoWriMo quota. I packed up instead. Got home so early–after getting the morning start I promised myself–that it was strange.

And, of course, there were the usual expectations–I thought that I would hit a hurdle–maybe hate an old scene. I especially thought that I would not be able to find more plot to keep working with.

But it’s 21 days in–absolutely time to start putting some fears to bed and picking up personal mantras.

Even if things go really poorly for one or two or eighteen writing sessions, they will pan out. If they don’t–if you can’t figure the story out–then you didn’t love the story enough anyway. Because figuring it out just takes obsessing over it, which you will do naturally if you love it.

Many of the problems you’ve experienced with writing novels has come from procrastination. You’ve sat on ideas so long that you forgot critical parts of them or completely let them slip. You’ve waited so long between writing sessions that you completely lost the mood of the story and were incapable of getting it back. You’ve waited so long between edits that you’ve forgotten important twists and subtle nuances, making your manuscript a mess of conflicting ideas. Absolutely no more. You write every day because even if other writers don’t, this is how it works for you. This is how it works best. Writing every day almost makes it too easy.

The amount of words you hit for a day of NaNoWriMo does not matter. All that matters is that you put down any words. Actually, even if you don’t, trying to figure out a scene or plot point or character is enough.

Stop expecting your work to be horrible. Whether you look back and it is or you look back and it isn’t, you’re going to worry regardless. Just don’t worry. If it is bad, you’ll know and you’ll fix it. If it isn’t, you believe it isn’t. Own that.

And most importantly, find more places with guaranteed seclusion to write. The dingier the better.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s