Monday, November 28, 2011

I Am a Writer!

I know a lot of people who do this whole crazy writing thing often think of themselves in terms of their day job when describing themselves. Myself, for example: I am a fitness instructor. That's my day job, the job that brings in the regular money.

"Writer" was always kind of secondary to my day job. Something I dabbled in on occasion, discussed with other writerly friends, and so on. I enjoyed it, but it was something just for fun.

Write 1 Sub 1 changed that. And subsequently, it has changed how I approached Nanowrimo this year.

I've been doing Nanowrimo since 2005. Each time (well, most times) I had a great story idea that I was excited to write, with every intention of finishing the story at some point in time, regardless of whether I won Nanowrimo or not.

Each one of those is sitting on a file on my computer, still unfinished.

With my participation in Write 1 Sub 1, I tackled a form that I'd never done beyond school assignments: the short story. And in following the format of the program, I've submitted most of my stories and had a total of twelve acceptances this year. (One story has been released back to me as the anthology was canceled, but it still was an acceptance.) So far, five of my stories are out in print form, one is an ebook, and the other five are part of a monthly online magazine. One of those will be in print form soon as well.

I received one of my contributor copies of an anthology in the mail last week. It was my second sold story of the year, with no payment other than the print copy. The biggest payment I received for a story of mine was $50. (But really, who's keeping track, right?)

But it wasn't until today that I suddenly realized how writing is taking precedence in my life.

I got a great idea for a story just before November. Didn't get much of a chance to work it out beforehand like I do with each of my short stories. I like to have a general guide for my story as I write, so I avoid rambling. So I started out with just a vague outline of the story from beginning to end.

My writing seems even more horrible than usual this Nano. I'm so intent on just filling the page with words, and this no longer seems functional to me. My characters seem flat, and most of the deliciously horrific elements I planned are simply not coming out as I pile on the words. I'm pretty sure that if I do decide to go on with this story after Nano, I will be chucking this one and starting all over again anyway.

But here's where the big realization hit me today: I've had a serious migraine developing since last night. I get those awful ones with huge pain, light sensitivity, and motion sickness. I can't move, I can't read, I can't watch TV, nothing. It all hurts too much. Luckily I don't get these any more than once every couple of months or so. Today I was trying everything to get rid of it, my headache balm, tea, aspirin, sleep, turning all the lights off and closing the curtains. Nothing touched it. (Usually sleep works, but not this time.)

I'm still catching up in Nanowrimo's daily word count. Supposed to be at 46,666 words today and I'm not there yet. I didn't want to lose another day and have even more to make up the last two days.

So I turned on my computer and started writing. I turned the brightness of my computer screen all the way down (to the last level before it turns the screen off), and then I plunged right in.

Last year I would not have done this. Last year, I probably would have just slept all day, hoping it would go away, and possibly not finish the Nanowrimo goal of 50k by the end of the month.

I actually had no intention of actually finishing this year. I figured there were too many days I wasn't going to be able to write to finish in time.

And yet I'm right on target now to finish in time. I think I'll be finishing a day early even, since we have a meeting tomorrow.

I credit my experience with Write 1 Sub 1 with this ability to finish in less available time than I've had in previous years. I think it's because I've made the habit of sitting down most days and writing whole stories in one or two sittings. Then polishing them up and sending them out has gotten me over stressing over every single word, and rewriting a hundred times.

Though many would say publication is the line between being a writer and just writing for fun, I think the fact that I was willing and wanting to write despite one of my nasty migraines says it even more.

I am a writer!


Deborah Walker said...

Congratulations Sparklecat. Sound like a great writing year.

Matthew said...

This reminds me of something Agatha Christie (always my favorite author) said. After her divorce, she had to force herself to finish writing "The Mystery of the Blue Train." She said in her autobiography, "That was the moment when I changed from amateur to professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to."

I think this is why I never took my theater to the next level. I didn't want to *have* to do it.