As I start to draft this post (Yep, I admit it. I’m drafting it at work.), I have been smiling pretty much constantly all morning. This is fairly significant, as I usually don’t find myself smiling very much at work. My day job isn’t terrible, but at the end of the day it is neither mentally stimulating nor very fulfilling. It is challenging in its way, but not necessarily in the right way for me. I am truly grateful to be employed at all, and overall it is a decent job at a good company with a decent wage. So don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my work.
In fact, this post isn’t about work. It is about the fact that I’m smiling at work.
This forced me to start asking myself why. If I want to replicate this feeling more often, I need to figure out what sparked it. Exactly a week ago today I was in such an incredibly lousy mood that I wanted to throw and/or break things over really dumb stuff (for example, a broken hanger). This smiling thing is much preferable. So, again, why?
I’m writing again.
When I see those 3 little words sitting there on my screen, emphasized by the white space around them, they don’t seem so significant. But they’re kinda huge.
I’M WRITING AGAIN!
This blog was the start of it. I haven’t posted much, but I’ve enjoyed easing myself into it. Testing the waters. Warming up the atrophying writer-muscles I’ve been neglecting. Hoping to get back into writing because it has always been in me. Maybe eventually get back to stories and the two or three BIG IDEAS I’ve been picking away at over the years.
Then I saw the NaNoWriMo post on my WordPress Reader page. I’d heard distant murmurs of past NaNo’s from a Facebook friend for a couple of years. I was a little curious, but at the time I was not mentally in a place where I could expend any thought or energy on figuring out what it was, much less actually participate. But last Wednesday, I followed the link. I read about it and said “maybe,” fully expecting it would drop out of my head again. It didn’t. I mused on it a little during the day on Thursday, the day before it was supposed to start, and still thought “maybe.” I even went to bed Thursday night, still thinking “maybe.” Then a still small voice said “Do. Or do not. There is no maybe!” Okay, that’s not really what it said. It may have been more like “Enough with the maybe. Just do it!” I actually got out of bed, went to the other room to get my laptop, and signed up at about 11:30 Thursday night. I barely had any idea what I was doing. I had no clue what I was going to write. But it was done.
I spent most of Friday incredibly distracted by trying to figure out what I was going to write. I got pretty mad when I realized I had to run an errand after work and couldn’t go straight home and dive in, even though I still had not decided what I was going to write. Ultimately, the errand was probably a good thing because in the 2 hours of driving the errand took, I had time to remember a crazy dream I’d once taken notes on and decide that perhaps it would be appropriate fodder for the “Just Write It” philosophy of NaNoWriMo. If I could find my notes.
The notes were unearthed with relative ease, and by mid-evening Friday I had donned my comfies, carefully positioned my caffeinated beverage of choice on the table, started my “I Fight for the Users” iPod playlist (10 easy bonus points for you if you can guess what’s on that playlist!) and settled into the corner of my couch with my laptop. I also had a notebook and 3 blue pens in easy reach, just in case the laptop’s electromagnetic field caused interference with the call of my muse, as it sometimes does.
It was with some trepidation that I booted up my little chunk of technology. It had been so long since I’d started anything new. A blank white page of Microsoft Word (or even actual paper) can be pretty intimidating, you know. What if I had no words? What if my characters refused to behave? What if they were boring? What if there was no plot? What if there was a plot, but it was a real stinker? WHAT IF I’M DELUDING MYSELF AND CAN’T WRITE A COHERENT SENTENCE TO SAVE MY LIFE?
That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. None of that matters. Just write! So I did. The notes and the earlier 2 hours of drive time to ponder helped a lot. In the 3rd (not my favorite) Anne of Green Gables movie, someone advises her to start with the end. I had formulated a prologue, so I did that first, and then wrote the Epilogue. Since then I’ve been working from either end.
I spent the better part (the best part!) of the weekend writing. This was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time! I wrote late night on the couch, with my eyes getting bleary but caffeine still doing its job. I typed stretched out in the morning sunlight streaming across my bed, after the animals woke me up so very early. I even worked at the dining table for a while, but not for long because tables and desks often stifle my creativity. Most of the time, I was in my PJs. I changed to the “That still only counts as one!” playlist (20 bonus points for that one) for a while. Later, I tuned out a few episodes of Firefly in the background.
It was an awesome weekend: Over 10,000 words of awesome weekend. Note I didn’t say the words were awesome. Most of them are probably crap. I don’t care. I’m writing again!
I begin to wonder again if it is possible that writing is my “calling.” I’ve wondered this on and off for years. What I can say with certainty is that when I’m writing, when I’m submerged in a new world and trying to tell their story, everything feels right with my world. I’m more myself than at any other time.
I love the excited feeling I’ve had ever since clicking the “sign up” button on the NaNoWriMo website. I love being snuck up on by unexpected plot points, or realizing something to add that will just make a scene “click.” I love meeting my characters, especially the moment I realize who they are, despite the rush of fear that I can’t adequately tell their story. I’m looking forward to the rest of this month, discovering the tale, and learning if I’m able to complete the telling.
So, over the next few weeks, if you see me at my desk, or in my car, or at the store, and I’m smiling for no apparent reason, chances are good I’m not really there at all. Because, like right now, the story calls…