Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Choppin' Broccoli

I cut myself loose today.

No more classes. No more critique groups. Not for a while.

When the chorus of remembered critiques drowns out my ability to compose, it’s time to take a break. Too many inner critics in the kitchen. A backseat full of cooks. Something. It’s time for Frodo to ditch the fellowship and kick some butt in Mordor alone. And…some other less-dorky metaphors.

I started writing as a way to escape stress. Now I stress about writing and have no way of escaping other than endless dull-eyed perusal of the internet, eating, or manic online bargain shopping. I’ve put my novel through eighteen months of public butt kicking. Enough. I’m going to write like a cloistered madwoman until my inner attention hog can’t stand it anymore and kicks down the door. (And then the fellowship can rescue me from Mount Doom.)

But first I’ll do something fabulous, if  ill-advised.

It’s been a day of cardigans, cold toes, and crisp air. A sneak preview of Autumn 2010. In a few days, we’ll be back to triple-digit temperatures and thinking a twelve-inch square of shade is the rarest form of heaven, but, for now, we have this taste of fall.

I’ve opened all the windows, and the wind is scuffing the blinds across the sills. The blankets are cold, top and bottom, and I’m hearing sounds I haven’t heard in ages — crows, aerobatics from the local bi-planes, and kids playing in the street — all echoing in my otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Do I think of holidays to come?

Do I think of apples, pumpkins, and first days of school?


I start thrilling at the thought of November first and the commencement of NaNoWriMo!

I have no right to dive into such a thing if I’m trying to relieve pressure from my writing. But, oh… The joy! The adrenaline! The abandon! National Novel Writing Month 2009 was one of the best things I’ve done in years. I wrote 75k words in thirty days — most in the ten days between November 6-15. I got to satisfy my competitive streak by besting all of my writing buddies in word count (heh), and I’ve created happy associations with the sensations of late autumn.

I hope this year brings a bit of that happiness again.

Besides, the gigantor book I wrote for the contest has been a gold mine for my main novel (an alternate version of the same story). It clarified plot, conflict, and motivations for many of my previously nebulous characters. Honestly, my NaNo novel is the one that sucks me in when I begin reading. I need to learn to balance the pacing and suspense of that one with the atmosphere of the other.

Wish me good luck.


*The way my mind works: Original entry title = “New Beginnings”. “New Beginnings” = a song title from an old SNL Dana Carvey skit where he was a musician fumbling to come up with new material for his record company. He wings it. His second song in the skit was “Choppin’ Broccoli”. “Choppin’ Broccoli” = new entry title.

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