Catch-Up on a Tuesday

Just wanted to write a few quick words about my lit life, since a cute mini-book doesn’t have enough for space for my thoughts.

NaNoWriMo 2013 is rough-going for me at the moment. I’m behind on my word count, as I know others are as well. Despite that, signing up and trying to work to the schedule has been helpful. Since I am trying to finish a story from high school, writing this manuscript has been a revisiting of my past self. And, surprise, surprise, the core of my anxieties and artistic thoughts haven’t changed as much as I thought they had. As I was scribbling out character notes, trying to figure out how to get my protagonist to interact with the world, I realized that her conflict about connecting with others was the same alienation & freakishness that had moved me to create her in the first place in 1998. Two moods that are still prevalent in my life now–I’ve just learned how to handle it better.

I don’t want to sound like I’m Mary Sue-ing my way through my story; I dislike that type of obvious authorial insertion as much as the next person. I relate the above because I’m finally starting to feel like I can legitimately take those elements of my experience & explore them in fiction writing, instead of using fiction as some perfect, controlled world or scenario that I’ve created to self-therapize. Which is why I turned away from fiction in the first place–because I didn’t think I was any good at it. Everything felt forced. If I was going to be so controlled, then why not try non-fiction, I thought, where the excellent writers find ways to measure, explore and celebrate the gap between what they know and what they don’t.

Another benefit of NNWM’s schedule is that I’ve become more and more aware of the shape of my time. A good number of books I’ve read this year have been about time management and creative pursuits. Those lessons don’t really mean much until you are actually working on something that sustains you. (Really, Elizabeth, such an obscure idea!) It is one thing for me to grow frustrated and unsatisfied with the brevity of my book reviews; it is another to be working on a longer project & realize just how much time those smaller projects actually drain away overall. Context–it only happens when you actually do something!

Speaking of book reviews, I’m getting to the end of a longer period of review reading. My last two books to write reviews for are Anne Lamott’s Stitches and Daniel Woodrell’s The Maid’s Version. I’ve had them for a few months, but am just now getting their reviews typed up. I was also going to take on Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. But, it’s just too big, too much of a time commitment now when I really want to focus on the manuscript.

Anyway, all for now. Best of luck to the rest of you WriMos.