Monthly Archives: November 2013

NaNoWriMo Week 4: I See the Light!

Light on the end of railway tunnel.

Sorta looks like a scene from a scary movie.

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is either sunshine or a train. In the case of NaNoWriMo, it can go either way (and often both). As of this posting, I have written 45,041 words toward the official goal of 50,000. I am so very close. My writing is fluid; the words stream out from my fingers often before I’m even aware that I’ve thought them. I am in the Zone. I see the light!

Although each writer experiences the Zone a little differently, certainly there are some commonalities. When we write, we sometimes feel as if an external source is feeding the words to us, perhaps whispering them into our ears or downloading them directly into our cerebral cortexes. In a recent shower-based rumination*, I found myself pondering the potential link between this creative inspiration and the scribing of religious literature.

For the record, I am not religious. As a child, I did not attend church or temple or go to a mosque; my Sundays were spent climbing trees and watching Shirley Temple movies. My particular knowledge of any religion is nominal at best. However, I do know that most holy texts – whether the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Quran, among others – contain some pretty whacky stories. And someone (or more likely many someones) had to author those stories.

whalediver

“Get in Mah Belly!”

About five minutes into this recent shower, a thought occurred to me: during those times when I feel a story flow through me, effortless and inspired – in short, when I am in the Zone – is this essentially the same feeling that the authors of the Bible and every other major religious text also experienced? While my “divine” inspiration leads me to write about trespassing children and farting dogs, did theirs rouse them to pen stories about golden plates and human-swallowing whales? While I simply muse “Wow, I didn’t know I had all of that in me”, did these men** in fact believe that the external something whispering into their ears was actually their preferred brand of Godspeaking through them, and that they were merely scribes for His word?

Fascinating.

Alas, I cannot say what went through the minds of those who penned the foremost religious texts of our time. That is, of course, unless I decide to write about one of them in my next NaNoWriMo novel.

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* In retrospect, I probably should have called this blog “Stuff I Think About in the Shower”. Thanks to my apartment building’s central water heater system, I can run both my shower and my dishwasher at the same time and never run out of hot water, a fact that makes me drunk with power and also gives me plenty of thinking time.

Something I learned today: Apparently the story of Jonah and the Whale (or Big Fish) is one of God’s favorites (moral: do as I say or you’ll regret it); a version of it even appears in the Quran.  

** Because let’s face it, women did not write a single line in any of the three holy books previously mentioned.

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NaNoWriMo Week Two: Riding The Fine Line

Ah, the dreaded Week Two! Until a couple of days ago — as predicted (see The Seven Stages of NaNoWriMo) — I was riding the fine line between glory and failure. All of those lovely words that sprung joyously from my fingertips during Week One hadn’t yet formed into a perceptible story, and the work-write-sleep-work-write-sleep routine was starting to wear on me. I was over it.

Damn, thwarted again!

Thwarted again? (Get your mind out of the gutter, people — it’s a shower mic)

Until I took one of the most productive showers of my life. Instead of cranking up my current go-to Pandora station, I opted for a silent cleansing. And somewhere between washing my face and my hair – in other words, as soon as I stopped banging my head against the proverbial literary wall – the ideas came tumbling out of my brain, all clamoring to be heard. (My next invention: waterproof voice-activated recording device.) By the time I was toweling off, I’d worked out several stymieing story issues and even plotted out the end of my novel.

Later that evening – buzzed on red wine and revelation, and with the help of my patient boyfriend – I continued to hash out a number of other plot challenges. Of course the main character would find the missing girl’s diary! Of course the neighbor’s dog would sense a disturbance in the space-time continuum! Once I’d tapped the well, I could barely hold back the flow of ideas. It felt fantastic.

clouds

Can you see the Pegasus flying over the rainbow?

I could have ended this post right here, with me soaring high among the clouds of inspiration. But lest my fellow writers begin to loathe me for my Pollyanna, sunshine-and-lollipops demeanor, I will disclose this: less than 36 hours after my remarkable shower, small black nuggets of doubt began to pop up in my mind. Was my plot even believable? Would anyone actually want to read this story?

While far from pleasurable, these moments of doubt are an essential part of the creative process. They keep us asking questions and improving our work. The trick, of course, is learning to trust your own constructive critic and shut out the internal naysayer. And that’s where patient boyfriends (and other good folks) come in handy.

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