We’re approaching the halfway point in the month as this goes up, but it’s only the end of the first week when I’m writing it. I hope I’m still doing as well with my NaNoWriMo challenge when this posts as I am when I’m writing this. Right now, I’ve not only written every day, but I’ve also passed the daily average for National Novel Writing Month’s 50,000 word goal. I’m, you know, only five days in, so there’s plenty of time for that to change, but given that I was able to do last night’s words in about an hour, I think I’m in a good place to succeed.
I also feel better than I think I ought to. It could just be the rise and fall of my mood combined with overcoming my horrible night’s sleep and the general stress I’ve been under as I’ve dealt with all the problems that have come up in my life, but I do know that I always feel better when I get to tell stories or write. And sure, I write every day with this blog, but that definitely doesn’t always make me feel better. Sometimes, it lets me explore something I think I need to feel, even if it is negative, but it’s not the sort of creative expression that makes me feel fulfilled all the time. This is where I try new things or do something small I’m not sure about. Novel writing is my old, comforting, familiar form of artistic expression.
I started writing in high school. Before that, I was just the sort of scenario creater for my younger siblings and local friends, during the times I enjoyed playing with them or had access to them as a kid. I was the creator of most of our games of make-believe and the one who came up with new games to play. In high school, I turned that into creating stories about my friends and I, things that helped us make sense of the world around us as we became aware of it and still had no real control over it or our lives. It was a form of wish fulfillment, a way to turn the petty, unconfrontable villains of our youth into ideas we could rebel against.
Part of that was the first story I wrote. It was about a teenager who lost his entire family, except for one younger sibling and an older mentor, who was forced from his home by the person who was responsible for killing his family, an older brother-figure (actually a distant cousin), who wanted what the protagonist had. The protagonist went on an adventure to escape the people who were trying to kill him, rally support from outside allies, and then eventually return home triumphant after finding and killing the people who took away his family. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a pretty clear metaphor for how I felt about my family and my life at that point. Until recently, it was probably the most “me” that ever went into a story I created.
In high school, writing this story was an escape. I would hide away in my room most evenings, pull out my laptop, and peck away at the keyboard from my chair or the floor. I was slow, not very skilled at stringing words together, but I was creating the world I needed to escape the one I lived in. In the past decade, as I’ve really doubled-down on my efforts in therapy, it’s become clear that I’ve always been the author of my own escapism. There weren’t a lot of stories I could find back then about how your biological parents could be bad, brothers could be abusive, siblings could be turned into pawns, and you could be systematically cut off from every possible authority figure you might turn to for help. Even now, most stories about difficult family situations still end with “but you gotta stick by your (biological) family!” and that just pisses me off.
My current project is probably the second most “me” thing I’ve ever created. This story is far more nuanced, says things more cleverly (I hope), and is a conscious choice rather than an unconscious one, but it still very much about me, who I am (faults included), and who I think I’d like to be. Not necessarily as a whole, there’s no real self-insert in this story, but parts of me definitely live in it in a way I’ve never tried before, and I’m really curious to see how it turns out.
I might finish it before I hit 50,000 words for the month since it’s not a massive fantasy novel, but I’ve got a secondary project I can work on if I need more words to write before the month ends. I could also probably include the blog words I’ve written this month, too, but that feels a little disigenuous given what my goal is. I want 50,000 words in a story project. Maybe not the same story project, but I want them to be that type of creative expresison. After all, this blog doesn’t count as escapism. Maybe more of a catharsis/witnessing type thing, but definitely not escapism.
2 thoughts on “Writing For Myself”
Hey Chris. I see where you’re coming from. Blogging sometimes doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it should to me sometimes too. Sometimes it just feels like something to do which is fine, yet that feeling that you just did something productive and valuable is a great feeling to have.
Oh yeah, that’s part of why I restarted this whole thing in the first place. It feels great to have measureable progress and success. And it’s great to have a place for smaller-form writing, a place where I can try stuff out that I don’t want to write a whole book about.
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