30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 30: An Ending and a Beginning

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.30.14Where I Wrote: The Table Tennis Subway Plaza at the top of the lifts at the 190th St. station on the A line.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: It was genuinely good work that put me at ease about the rest of the book.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Weirdly unfazed. Unmoved is probably a better way to say it. It was a mood that led to a strange ride home on this final day of NaNoWriMo.

The Experience: I woke up to find that it was nearly 50 degrees. Excellent. That meant I could forgo an indoor location for this last 30 Days outting.

I decided in favor of a good view.

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This is the Subway Plaza on Fort Washington Ave., directly before reaching Fort Tryon, a place I found on my return to the Cloisters at the very beginning of this last week of NaNoWriMo.

The view of Inwood and Fort George wasn’t amazing here today–not like it was at the beginning of the week–but it was scenic enough to be pleasant and boring enough to make work easy. Not as grand as Linden Terrace inside of Fort Tryon (my second spot from Day 24, overlooking the Hudson), but thus perfect for focusing on work. Particularly convenient with New Leaf offering public restrooms a short walk north (around the back and through a door that looks locked but absolutely isn’t [meaning you don’t have to buy a generic small coffee that turns out to be $4 and change]).

Here, I ironed out more of the kinks with the endgame. To be honest, I didn’t realize there were still problems with my protagonists’ plan, but, after brainstorming way too much the past few days, last night and this morning saw really simple fixes popping into mind. Scenes that would only be possible if the set up for the endgame was like this… and hey, wouldn’t you know it, that works perfectly. I spent a good while at the plaza, working and making those fixes until the weather turned and I realized that the Subway Plaza was in the adjacent buildings’ shadow for the last few hours of the day (making it yet another spot that would be better in summer). I packed up and headed home.

And had a bizarre train ride. I wasn’t sure why exactly, but something bothered me about the day.

Broken down to my simplest reaction to it, I was disappointed. Somehow, I expected everything to fit into place at this point. I’m fine with not finishing the book on NaNoWriMo’s deadline… but I thought the last day of 30 Days would be more spectacular in some way. I saw the weather and perhaps thought that it would be sunny and beautiful–that I’d be able to tell a final, good story.

But there was nothing. And as I rode back home, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d missed some opportunity. That I’d gotten the bad ending. Which led me to the strange thought…

Well, I guess there’s next year.

Next year… to have a perfect outting? As if… I couldn’t just keep going out this year? As if I now had to return home and turn sedentary again? As if life was a video game or a meticulously composed plot? As if I’d lost anything at all?

As if I’d learned nothing from 30 Days of NaNoWriMo?

No. No, I won’t do it. Fuck you.

Because this is how life works. Life is all about throwing the curve balls at you. 30 Days has ultimately been about me repeatedly dealing with, learning from, and avoiding those curve balls. I knew that–I have for a long while now. Just like I know that the one major lesson of 30 Days is to…

Just… keep… working. To not give up. To not surrender to distractions. To not give in to the reflex to walk away from a story. To not wait for writer’s block to go away, but to keep hammering at it until it yields. To never let a piece of your work cool for so long that it turns dun and lukewarm in the open air. To not give up–ever.

And, for me, personally, to never ignore what I want and never lose faith in what I can do.

Because Memory is a chapter from being finished. I lost NaNoWriMo. Okay. I’m fine with that.

But I won myself back. For the first time in years, I finally feel like myself again and not the horribly depressed person that the last 3 years of circumstance made me.

So, this is my grand ending. I will end 30 Days with this 30th day, because I don’t want to prolong it. I don’t want to drag it out.

And because I know that regardless of challenges and deadlines and every other curve ball the world throws at me, I will finish Memory in the next few days. Nothing could stop me from doing so. I will post when I do and then take a short hiatus to handle a ton of things I need to do for myself.

Until then, thank you to everyone who’s read. Tons of thanks especially to those who Liked and Followed during the month, but also, of course, thanks to anyone who stopped here, whether you’ve come back or not; even if you never read this, thank you.

And to any writer who’s had a remotely similar experience to mine–who’s struggled like I’ve struggled–never give up. Never wait on your ideas. Never smother them with lethargy. Never write for anyone other than yourself.

But most of all, never add qualifiers. Never strictly regiment what you write. Never set standards that will break you if you don’t meet them.

Instead, just write. Don’t wait for a particular month. Don’t wait for a particular mood. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect because it never will. Write often. Write from the heart. Write in places that you love and places where you’ve never been. Write until it’s a strange addiction that you find you’re suddenly terrified to lose.

Write until it feels like maybe it’s unhealthy. And at that point, do not stop.

30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 22: Reinforced Calm

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.22.14Where I Wrote: Sony Plaza on Madison, between 55th and 56th.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: It was a bit tough and I realized after a while that I was in danger of being completely generic, something I avoided very well with my characters’ first encounter. I realized that before actually getting generic, thankfully, which resulted in an early stop and very determined brainstorming on the train (I didn’t even read Clariel, so you know I meant business). The result: I now know exactly how to handle the rest of my mid-book addition.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Reinforced calm.

The Experience: I did not wake up late today. I woke up pretty early.

And then relaxed. For hours.

Relaxed without really knowing where I was headed. I have said time and again that I’m not out of places to go in the city, but late November weekends are a bit of a mess for 30 Days. Going somewhere like the Museum of Natural History–really going to any popular attraction–is out. Any of the outdoor spots I had planned are now out because of the cold (although I might take a chance on one more this Monday [or maybe Tuesday] when it’s supposed to be warmer). Unless they’re the worst of the worst, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are likely full on the weekends as well.

I knew all this and still just played Rebirth for a while. A long while. The sun was seriously on its way down when I finally stopped, got ready, and looked for a list of public spaces. I found one easily, took a few screen grabs from Google Maps, and headed out without really deciding on which one to go to. Without knowing if they would be closed by the time I got there.

And the entire way, I pushed down a weird and constant discomfort. I wasn’t sure the places I picked would work out. I’m always headed back home when the sun’s setting. I’m always inside again by the time it’s dark. In particular, I’m always out of the city on a Saturday night, aware that, although they’re not violent, drunk and/or rowdy assholes will be all over public transportation. For the past 21 days, I’ve been home preparing posts by 6 at the latest.

I wanted to challenge all of that. Especially because it put me in a shitty mood. There are daily modifiers to which I’ve been extremely susceptible: late starts, not enough brainstorming, the need to be home at a certain time for work even though I make my own hours. I wanted to defy those boundaries.

The result, however, was that I was in an oddly bad state-of-mind. It shouldn’t be surprising–I was forcing myself to do a bunch of things I hated. I was asking for a bad experience. Standing on the train, I found myself thinking of people I hate and haven’t seen for years, strangely imagining that they would be at whatever place I chose. I know–completely unrealistic and bizarre. But I’m writing it here because it’s true–a strangely self-damaging survival tactic, I guess.

I did not go back home though. I got off my train, headed in the vague direction of the spot I chose moments before getting to my stop, found that there wasn’t an obvious entrance for it, and then changed course the instant I spotted Sony Plaza across the street, with its sign promoting it as a public lounge–exactly what I needed.

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It was indoors. It was quiet. It was pretty. It was a little dim. Most importantly, despite it being Saturday evening, there was no trouble finding a seat and no one got loud or blasted music. The presence of security may have had something to do with that last bit. With public restrooms and a Starbucks adjacent to the Plaza, I was glad I accidentally chose it. It is instantly a place I will come back to–especially on a weekday morning when I assume I’d be almost completely alone.

I sat down and rode my satisfaction with the locale into my writing–threw it repeatedly in the face of doubts. I worked remembering yesterday’s mantras, pushing nearly-typical elements far enough away that I could stare at them–consider them like individual pieces of my story’s puzzle. There was a lot of writing, deleting, and readjusting tonight, but I finally felt good by the time I ended early. As I packed up, I was confident about the work I’d done and about stopping when I had–trusting that I knew when not to force myself to produce more content. A second fight scene was about to start and I wasn’t going to manufacture any part of it without properly loving it first, something that sounds really bizarre, but it’s the best way to put it. I had, I realized now, spent the entire day reinforcing my calm. But that was a good first step towards actually believing it. Especially because I want to believe in that calm instead of manufacturing it.

On the train ride home, I obsessed (in the best way) over the rest of my mid-novel addition. I have but one detail to research after publishing this post. Once I have it, the addition is fully plotted. It will take a day to write it all, another day (at most) to edit and adjust the rest of my work, and then I’m caught up again–at the endgame that I’ve been slowly refining this whole time. It was a really good commute back. I felt centered again. Glad to have my story to focus on. Glad, grudgingly, that I’d pushed myself.

Because, from the beginning, NaNoWriMo wasn’t just about writing another novel for me–it was about getting back in touch with outside. There’s only so much I can do; the overwhelming majority of my closest friends still moved away a few years ago, so there’s still a strange distance to these outings–I’m still a lone wolf out there.

But it’s nice to contest my reflex to confine myself.