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 24: Regrounded

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.24.14Where I Wrote: The Cloisters followed briefly by Fort Tryon Park.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really good.

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Excited. I figured out how to fix my current fight scene last night, so, despite knowing that the first step of today’s session would be deleting a few pages, I was absolutely ready.

The Experience: Today was an awesome quest.

It started when I woke up. Immediately, what I now identify as persistent lethargy “challenged” me to go out later and still get a good amount of writing done. In reply, I showered and left without even turning on my computer, sticking 100% to my original plan; the weather was as nice as the forecasts said it would be, so it was time to return to the Cloisters.

A trip that is strangely complicated for me. The entire commute starts with a bus through several extremely congested areas. Then a train. Then either many hills or another train station’s elevator (only) and a lot of walking.

This all augmented by not eating or getting water. To solve the first problem, I opted for a 7 Eleven peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I only mention here because I’ve been trying to describe it with words since my teeth first met it. I would like to provide that description for you now:

Imagine that scientists found a way to make a loaf of bread out of a loaf of bread. Imagine that they found some way–perhaps boiling and drying in the sun–to not just condense several loaves into one, but to create a new strain of bread that is as tasteless and dry as it is dense. A Master Loaf, if you will, or perhaps Loaf Prime. Now imagine that they found a way to create a vein of peanut butter and jelly in that loaf. Imagine that it’s mostly peanut butter–more than enough to push the Mouth Drying factor to a dangerous level, but still with just enough jelly to make your coffee taste like tar. That is what 7 Eleven’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich was like.

That is what I ate in a hurry as I refilled my Metrocard and continued to forget that I would need water.

I grabbed my bus, transferred to my train, and got off at 191 St. on the 1 line.

And remembered why the northern end of Manhattan is my favorite part of the city–easily the spot I would live in if I had my pick. Not because it’s convenient.

But because it’s so goddamn weird.

There’s a long tunnel that leads out of the 191 St. station. An inconveniently long tunnel. It’s wet and full of people walking from and toward the station, occasionally giving each other looks of, “This fucking tunnel, amirite?”

And then, when you get out, you’re on the northern side of Manhattan, which means you’re surrounded by buildings suspended on giant girders; maybe there’s another part of Manhattan where buildings were stubbornly built on top of cliffs, secured in place on giant, rusty stilts, but I’ve only seen it in this area. These buildings are magnificent with their terraces looking over Broadway. The whole area is strange, oddly fantastic, and beautiful. It is the only part of Manhattan where a glance gives me pause because I’m suddenly looking at a wide strip of gardens, hidden behind buildings; or an alley that ends in a cliffside of raw rock; or a street of buildings that arch to a strangely beautiful point at a fork intersection. I see these things and think for a moment that I’m in an RPG or a foreign city–somewhere far away from the flat grid that makes up most of Manhattan.

But, of course, this area is also full of hills. It was when I was halfway up the hills on the wrong side of Broadway that I regretted not getting water. It was genuinely hot even without the non-stop climbing in the sun.

But I still enjoyed myself–still walked back down to Broadway and up to Fort Tryon Park. And, despite complications, I got to the Cloisters with enough time to wander and take pictures.

If you haven’t been to the Cloisters or the park surrounding it, both are beautiful and rife with writing spots. Even just the park is worth it, with some of the most scenic views you’ll find in Manhattan–whether its the city’s north end (the view to the east of the park) or the Hudson and New Jersey (to the west). But, as the Cloisters accepts donations for entry, it’s also absolutely worth it. There are only benches (their seasonal cafe is currently closed) but the museum itself is still amazing, inspiring, and beautiful.

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I took many, many pictures, but I opted for the bench I wrote on the most–one of the few I jumped between for the hours I was there (I needed to stretch my legs and [particularly] my back a few times).

Writing went really well even though my first step was, yet again, deleting a lot of what I wrote the previous day. Still, last night, with the comforting knowledge that I would be writing somewhere inspiring and taking 30 Days back to its roots, I was able to step back again and reconsider the fight scene objectively. The result: I recalled the exact moment when everything went wrong–the introduction of my second “boss” character. From his very first line, he was not what I intended. So I brainstormed, trying to figure out who he actually was. Taking the problem from that angle made the solution clear; I decided who that boss was–made him far more realistic and less complicated at the same time. And I finally–finally–got a few solid pages down. The fight scene is now half finished and the rest should come tomorrow.

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I hope. I’m not frantic about my deadline yet, but the rehashed fight scene still took some working out, the last touches of which I hammered out on a bench in Fort Tryon Park (pictured above [a shot taken before entering the Cloisters because I knew it would be too dark for my tablet’s camera when I got back]). Tomorrow, I will reread today’s work and make sure it makes complete sense. Even after my parting bit of sprucing, I got home and made a few more tiny tweaks to the entire addition, seeding certain ideas and adjusting others. It may be too late for me to objectively edit the entire addition (I may be way too close now), but I’ll still try more tomorrow. At worst, I’ll finish the scene and come back to it when I edit the entire book after NaNoWriMo.

And even if it comes to that, I’m fine. For the first time in a few days, I feel great. I’m excited to get back out tomorrow. Excited to reread today’s work, knowing, at least, that I definitely, finally found the right footing for the scene–the right foundation that can’t be swayed. It’s grounded now.

And finally, again, so am I.