Friday, November 22, 2013

The NaNoWriMo Marathon

There's a warning experienced marathon runners give to those about to run the race for the first time. It's called "The Wall" and it occurs for most runners at different distances, but most often a bit beyond the halfway mark. At this point your legs are in continuous pain, bordering on cramping, every labored breath you take is like inhaling molten iron into your lungs, and your stomach hurts so much that you want to retch. Catherine wheels spin before your eyes within the narrow focus on a spot ten paces ahead that you fervently pray that you can reach without collapsing and, when you manage to reach it, you pick another spot and go for that. But that's all just long-distance running.  "The Wall" is reached when every bit of strength you brought to the race has been spent, every erg of energy has been expended, and your tank of confidence is completely, utterly EMPTY  and you feel like you can.. not...

My personal NaNoWriMo Wall has manifested itself slightly over the three quarter word marker.  Up to this point I thought I was doing fine, pegging better than the allotted amount each day and gradually getting further ahead of the pace.  When I passed the halfway date I was almost three days ahead of the alloted pace, and then I was barely two days ahead, which turned into parity, and now I've found myself lagging behind the pack.

My writer's brain, which had so effortlessly produced material for twenty-two days has suddenly and without warning decided to stop running. The clear path of a steadily unfolding plot has suddenly become hidden, providing me a glimpse of only the next sentence but no hint of where I might go afterwards. Suddenly I have to face the fact that I must actually contrive a plot, conceive a solid objective,  or develop reasons for my characters to have been behaving as they have. Somewhere deep in my unconscious lay the story, not one I had deliberately planned but one that arose naturally from the intersection of character, situation, and setting - the big three - and was now lost, leaving me bereft, breathless, foundering and looking for that gasp of air that might take me another day closer.

I know that my personal race continues and the finish line lies just ahead, almost within reach. All I have to do is dig deep to find that last vestige of creativity that will let me stagger over the finish line of fifty thousand words.  Instead of pushing the story further I find myself dithering with names of characters, places, and cultural artifacts - time wasting fluff for the most part.

So here I sit, writing another God-damned pity piece.  At least I'm writing, but that's scant comfort and does absolutely nothing  to help me accomplish my personal objective.  I just have to put my ass in the chair and keep going.



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