Ignoring My Inner Perfectionist

So, yes, I’m participating (unofficially) in NaNoWriMo. I can’t say it’s fun, but it’s getting words on the page. Every morning, I wake up (early) and spend my first hour of the day writing. It’s still dark and I’m tired. I’ve also been ignoring the fact that what I’m writing might be crap. It might be repetitive and it hasn’t begun to touch on the depths I want my character to discover.

But, on this 6th day of NaNoWriMo, I have nearly 12,000 words written. And that is better than none, which is what I had on October 31.

I’ve been thinking about this story for a while. As most stories do, it has undergone massive transformations in what I want, what I would say and what I would tell. I decided to go back to my original concept, only because that’s the one that had gotten me excited. I did change some things, finding inspiration in Dante’s Purgatorio and waffling on genders until I settled on the M/M concept I’d started with, but lacking any erotic content. I can change everything again later, if need be.

I decided to incorporate a vague concept(s) brought to us by Dante Alighieri in his famously enduring trilogy the Divine Comedy—Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Dante was an Italian poet who lived in the Middle Ages. He wrote the Divine Comedy seemingly as a socio-political commentary, much like I do occasionally with My Bone To Pick. He pointed out the bad things going on, some of the good things, and expressed both guilt and regret over the things he’d done, too. His friends and his enemies were both called to the carpet, and his home city of Florence went so far as to exile him. They regretted that later, and even created a false tomb for him after death though his body was interred in Ravenna.

His Comedia is still regarded as one the greatest pieces of literature.

I’d only read Inferno, so I find myself searching the internet nearly every day for Purgatorio references. In Purgatory the sins his MC encounters on his travels has a difference in the severity of the same deadly sins in hell. Hell is primarily reserved for sins that were intentionally harmful, while purgatory seems more neglectful. I’m trying to incorporate that distinction in a general sense.

My MC, Christian, killed himself, which should put him straight to hell according to Dante and his medieval beliefs (some of which persist today). Suicide is a mortal sin, no coming back… Except Christian learns from his guide, Cato (yes! The same name as the guide in Purgatorio, but a totally different take) that spirits called Siphons had attacked him until he couldn’t fight back emotionally. They drained him of all energy and positivity and left nothing but negativity until there was literally no light left in his world. True energy vampires (having just set one of the human variety free from my life, this concept is highly motivating to me).

Christian is getting a second chance after death to prove that, given a different set of circumstances, he would choose a different way. Hopefully.

This is non-erotic, but there is a romance. In just a few more days, I’ll bring Christian to meet Beattie, a poor, beleaguered young man just over the age of majority, so it’s not too weird. Christian is twenty-two.

Beattie’s father is the CEO of a private hospital specifically dealing with mental health issues. Beattie is gay, which his father isn’t too happy about, and also sees spirits, which is the ultimate reason he’s locked up. His brother and sister are fighting their father in court to get their brother reinstated as a fully competent adult, but, in the meantime, he’s in the hospital getting attacked by the same type of spirits Christian was attacked by.

Now, Cato the guide has been having a hard time getting Christian to feel any emotion after being so damaged by the energy vampires, let alone getting him to feel empathy for others. But something about Beattie captures Christian’s attention, and he discovers they have so much in common. He starts to care, then he falls in love…

And Beattie with him.

Of course, they’re doomed for what might amount to be a tragic ending in the world of Romance, but they will each get a different type of happy ending. This story is about learning to love others just as much as you learn to love yourself. It’s acknowledging that not every love you receive in your lifetime is meant to carry on until the end of days, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

I’m excited, no matter that I sometimes want to take a day off (God, and that’s only a week in) or that I want to go back over and pick this story apart with a fine-toothed comb. I want to edit my mistakes, but I’m resisting. I’m letting this thing go, letting it grow wild like a vine, I haven’t even plotted the damned thing except a synopsis so I know what should be happening, but not when. When I’m finished, on December 1, I’ll start looking it over and see what I’ve got.

Until then, I’m going to bury my control-freak perfectionist in a closet somewhere and write for the love of writing.

You can find daily excerpt s of this story on my Facebook page.

NaNoWriMo for the first time

Every year I see a thousand posts about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Established authors and aspiring writers both seem excited about it and flood social media with word counts and updates.

I always thought, why bother? That’s how long it takes me to write a rough draft anyway. Why should I get involved in this activity and put added pressure on myself to hit a goal, especially when I’ve usually just finished writing a novel. November is for editing—with good reason considering that’s when my holiday rush starts. Time seems to move faster and there’s never enough of it.

I’ve only written new material once in November. (Once, ever.) Book 2 of my Magic Matched series, and then, before the month was out, I’d also written two-thirds of Book 3. The muse was upon me.

I’m calling her back this month. I’m begging my muse for a moment of her time. Or, barring that, I’m begging my motivation to come off its hiatus.

I’ve had a hard year—really starting last fall, so not just this calendar year. Everything has slowed down, everything has been stressful. Personal issues have overtaken my schedule, there’s no time to write and, when there is, I have little motivation to do so. I’ve been exhausted, running from one catastrophe to the next.

I’ve been working on the same rough draft for four months now. I’ve put aside one book completely and haven’t released anything new since the last of The Double O Saga, which I wrote last year (a struggle, as my year of hardship had just begun). I don’t feel like releasing new stories, I don’t feel like marketing, I don’t feel like participating.

I am working on a book though (see above) but I’m only halfway through. I need roughly 40,000 words to make it a full-length novel. But finishing a work in progress is not the point of NaNoWriMo, is it? You’ve got to start fresh, with a new story and not a single word written before November 1, correct? This counts out a lot of projects I’ve started where I’ve got a few chapters, or whatever.

I have to finish the one book. But I’ve got to shake things up too, maybe remember why I started writing in the first place. So I’ll be starting a second book. That one needs 50,000 to complete NaNoWriMo. That brings me up to 90,000 words? Different stories, different techniques, different motivations…same goal: Finish.

Holy Hell.

My plan is to buckle down and finish the first, but also taking my time with that story the way I usually do with all my stories. Some days, I really can’t write. Life happens. Plus, I’m a writer who needs a little bit of self-editing along the way. I can’t progress if something feels out of place or fits poorly.

So I’m also going to wake up earlier every single morning, write a chapter of my new one without stopping, without looking back and without caring what I just wrote. No matter what, every single day. I’ll outline every chapter, decide what needs to be done in each beforehand, then simply write it. No looking back. I’ll fix it later.

And that’s the point, right? Just write. Nora Roberts said

‘I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.’

Something has to shake loose around here. I started writing because I love it, because there were stories in my head clawing to get out, but somewhere along the way it got so commercial. I chose to write erotica because it was the most challenging genre I tried (seriously, you write about sex without sounding ridiculous then get back to me with your condemnation, mmkay?) But this NaNoWriMo, I’ll be writing something totally different. Might end up being YA but probably NA.

It’s something I’ve been tossing around for a very long time, a romance where the two lovers truly can’t be together. They can’t be together physically, they can’t even touch physically, but the emotions are there…and maybe that’s the thing that saves them both.

It’ll be challenging. I’m used to creating physical interludes between my characters to express a range of emotions, but what if it all just boils down to tension? I have to find a new way to show the emotional connection, longing and understanding. What if it’s learning how to love another that teaches you how to love yourself? And that opens the future’s possibilities…for them both. I mean, just because you love someone, doesn’t mean that’s who you belong with forever, right? This ain’t your typical romance.

For the first time all year, I’m really excited. Even if I fail, I can’t wait until November 1, when I’ll wake up too early to be rational, only half-functional, and write just for me. Even if no one ever sees it, even it’s awful, I’ll be putting words on the page, creating something. Something new, something I haven’t done before.

That’s the point. Just write. Create.

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone. Good luck to the participants, and you’ll find my word counts and maybe some excerpts on my Facebook page and my website if you feel like stopping by to check it out. Leave your own word counts and excerpts in the comments, if you want. We’ll help each other through it!