I’m now at around 42k for NaNoWriMo this year (this is definitely one of my slower experiences), and I figured since 42 is meant to be the answer to life, the universe, and everything, it was time for an update on my progress and feelings. Then I wrote this post and wasn’t sure if it was worth writing, because it feels kind of a downer. Oh well. Too late now.
I managed to write a fair amount early on last week, shortly after posting about how difficult I was finding it. Then the ability and inclination to write left me again, and I spent five days silent until I finally opened up my novel document last night and bashed out a chapter. Once I started, it was easier than I expected. It still wasn’t easy, though.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had such an inconsistent NaNoWriMo experience. I’ve had ridiculously fast ones (2013) and slow, more measured ones (2015), but I’ve never had one that stops and starts quite so much. Where I’ll appear briefly, write four thousand words, and then disappear again for several days. The reason, of course, is right there in the previous paragraph: once I start, it’s okay, but starting is the hard part. Bringing myself to get out of bed, turn the computer on, and sit down — even just for half an hour — seems like too much effort.
Sometimes I reflect on how much more I’d be able to get done if I didn’t suffer from fatigue and spend six hours in bed recovering from two hours of work in the library. Were all six of those hours necessary? Probably not, but the pain was bad and I was just so exhausted that once I lay down, it was hard to get up again. I don’t even need to imagine a more productive me, because I can remember the days where I went to school and played in multiple orchestras and took several dance classes a week and still had friends and wrote novels and blogged. These days, I barely have the energy to do the things necessary to keep myself alive, let alone things like work or even fun. Making food is exhausting. Going to the shops leaves me shattered. I’m just so tired.
I wasn’t sure if I should do NaNoWriMo this year, but eventually I decided to go ahead because it would have felt odd not to — I’ve done it every year since I was thirteen, and it wouldn’t be November if I wasn’t trying to bash out a first draft, or at least a total rewrite. However, I have to admit that after the first flurry of activity and novel-related talk, it stopped being the fun, creative outlet that I’d hoped it would be. It became just another thing to get done, that I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do.
Partly this was the state of the world, where writing a happy novel about magic seemed unbelievably trivial and I didn’t have the words for it. Partly it was more personal, and linked to my own grief and depression. Partly it was physical, because on bad pain days there’s no way I’m sitting upright at a desk and typing. The overwhelming apathy that is depression has been creeping into everything I do, to the point where my book reviews have to carry a disclaimer that although I didn’t find the book as funny as I hoped, that might just be because I’m finding it hard to laugh these days.
(Except at videos of cats falling off things. Somehow that still cracks me up. This one gave me a good chuckle this morning. As a result, I end up spending way too much time watching videos of cats.)
When I’m able to sit down and actually write, when I get started, a lot of that does fade away. I remember why I decided to tell this story, and I fall in love with my characters again, particularly one of the secondary characters called Phil (who is my precious child). I have something resembling a plot, even if I feel like I’m chasing after it as fruitlessly as cats chase laser pointers. I often stall at the end of a scene or chapter, wondering where to go next, but in the midst of the scene, I’m okay.
And I think by the time the month comes to an end and I have 50k (never before have I found it quite so difficult to get there, except perhaps last year when I tried to write short stories), I’ll be glad that I did this, even if that will be far from the end of the novel and I’ll have to continue chipping away at it throughout December if I want to have a finished draft. It will have tested my ability to write a happy novel (I’m bad at it), and given me the chance to create something just for myself and my friends that will probably never go anywhere (because it’s terrible).
I don’t know. I still might feel like it was a mistake. Maybe, if I hadn’t been trying to save a tiny bit of energy to write, I would have made it to at least one social or extracurricular event this week, instead of falling asleep every evening and missing them, though I think that’s probably unlikely. Writing has tended to be an afterthought rather than a priority.
Anyone want to share their experiences, good or bad? How’s NaNo been for you? Are you glad you decided to participate, or otherwise? And anyone got any tips for breaking myself out of this rubbish period?