If I still have any readers left from last year, um, sorry. I realized during NaNoWriMo last year that blogging was getting in the way of the writing I really wanted to be doing. I’ve learned that no matter how much I think I should do something, if I’m not actually committed it just drifts off my radar. I think about the blog, miss writing it sometimes, especially when someone finds one of my old posts and leaves a nice comment. Then I dive back into the novel I’m working on and forget about the blog again.
I have the same problem with fulfilling goals I’ve made for myself. Here are the goals I made for 2008 at the end of last year. The ones about the blog? Um. *cough* Let’s just ignore those. I’ve also completely failed to complete the writing goals. I don’t write every day, though I write more often than I used to. I didn’t work on Heartwood, my NaNoWriMo novel from last year. I did do NaNoWriMo again this year, but I haven’t finished the draft yet and I didn’t get involved with the local writing group like I wanted to. As far as the non-writing creative goals, let’s just ignore those too.
So did 2008 end in tears for me? No, because I accomplished other things that were important to me. Instead of Heartwood, I tackled a story code-named Doppelganger and finished a complete draft. Then I realized it was terrible and shelved it. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I’m getting better at recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of my writing.
I shelved Doppelganger with the idea that I’d let it rest for a month or so, then go back and tear it apart. So the next day I started something new, code-named Small Town. Because Doppelganger was such a mess, I decided to outline this one thoroughly. By the time it came to actually write the story, I was so bored I couldn’t get more than a couple of chapters down. So I learned something else–I need to find a balance between knowing where my story is going and plotting it to death. So onto the shelf with that, probably permanently.
Next, I dove into what I thought was a short story featuring a character I’ve had rattling around my head since middle school. Then I realized it was a novel. Then I realized it had no plot between the beginning and the end. Code-name Nyx is resting, waiting for inspiration, because I love the characters and they keep talking to me. I learned that sometimes I need to take things slowly, get to know my ideas before eloping with them.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned in 2008 is that I have no shortage of ideas. I remember being much younger and “saving” plot ideas until I was a more accomplished writer and could do them justice. I was worried that at some point I’d run out of stories. But I’ve never gone back to any of those scraps, because there are some days, some weeks, when the ideas flood in faster than I can write them down. The more I write, the more I open myself to creativity, the more ideas I have. When it came time to choose a story to write for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I had six ideas fleshed out enough that I could have taken any of them and run to the finish line.
I picked a story code-named Werewolves. (No, I don’t waste my creativity on titles, why do you ask?) I “won” NaNo with 50,000 words a week ahead of schedule, with the novel going strong though not yet finished. Writing Werewolves has gone so smoothly because I spent the rest of the year failing at my writing goals. Instead of a methodical progress toward writing nirvana, 2008 was messy, incomplete, and more illuminating than I could have imagined.
I know my writing self better now. I know that I need to write my ideas out, on paper if possible, but that I shouldn’t map out every detail. I know that where my characters have been is just as important as where they’re going. I know that it’s ok to step back for a day and figure out where I’m going next–it’s not a race. Overall, 2008 was a year of learning for me. Learning what works for me in terms of writing process, learning what’s good, what needs work.
So what’s my goal for 2009? Write. That’s about it. More specific goals don’t seem to work for me, because my creativity just dies when I try to force it away from the shiny thing that has it’s attention and onto what I “should” be doing. I love language, but if I could, I’d remove “should” from the dictionary. It gets me into more trouble than any other word.
I want to finish a draft of Werewolves and have some people read it, but I don’t know what I’ll do with it then. I want to go back to Nyx, but if that story needs to marinate for another year, I’ll let it. I’ve been thinking about Doppelganger lately, so maybe I’ll gut it and see what the insides look like. I’ve even been thinking about hacking at Heartwood, maybe paring it down to a short story.
Or maybe I’ll ignore all these old ideas, put them up on the shelf marked “Learning Experiences,” and charge onward with one of the half-dozen ideas waiting in the wings. Or maybe with something I haven’t even dreamed of yet.
So, the blog. I can’t promise I’ll be consistent, I can’t promise I’ll be enlightening. All I know is that I’ll be learning. After all, I’m here to create.