It is funny to me how life so often comes full circle. Almost two years ago I started this blog with the notion that I wanted to lose weight, find more time to read and write - to stimulate my mind and reshape my body. In classic MB fashion, my new project took off like a shot. The first few months were a flurry of activity on both fronts. The pounds started to drop and I was getting through books that had been on my wish list for years. But by the end of my first year, while I was a bit lighter, I had not lost anywhere close to the 50 lbs I had hoped to shed and my list of classics had far fewer volumes checked off than I had expected.
This past year, while I have continued to try to carve out more time for reading, I spent far more time focussed on writing. I joined a writers group. I took a leave from work to write. I reworked my schedule to carve out hours for creativity. At times, I felt a roaring success, the epitome of prolificacy, piling page after page. Many days I really really felt like a writer. But there have been just as many, if not more days throughout this year, when I have felt like a sham, a dismal unproductive lump of writer wannabe, staring at a blank screen urging my characters to talk to me, cursing my lack of creativity, my unoriginality, wondering what in God’s name made me ever think I could write even a well formed sentence, much less a whole novel. I was beyond the help of St. Francis de Sales or even the guardian angel of writers, Ecanus. In fact the only voice I heard in response to my meditative wondering was my own, telling me to chuck it all in the bin - your hackneyed words, your ordinary outlines, your implausible plotlines, your aspiration. All of it. In the bin. Now.
So I stopped. I stopped writing. I stopped reading about writing. Poor old Lillian Munsch sat as untouched as a corpulent college girl. The manuscript cover of her 225 pages gathered dust on my desk. A week went by. Another one. I hardly thought about writing. Actually that is a lie. I felt guilty for not writing. Hugely so. But I was getting used to it. As a Catholic I have a high tolerance for guilt, so I was ok. Really. I returned to work from my 10 week writing sabbatical. I busied myself with my work projects. Got the dogs accustomed to our new routine. I brushed off any questions about my writing with a vague response and pretended all was well.
Back a few weeks to my old routine, I was chatting with a girlfriend over drinks one night. Over the summer she lost a lot of weight working a protein based program. She looked great. Felt great. She glowed when I complimented her on her outcome. But as we discussed it, she surprised me. After describing the program and how tough it had been, she apologized to me for being so shallowly fixated on her weight. Here she had been able to do something I have tried many times unsuccessfully to accomplish. She had put her mind to something. In a very determined fashion she achieved her goal. She had no reason to apologize. But I did. Not to her, but to me. I had abandoned my own goals.
By mid October, I had determined on an approach. As of today, 3 weeks and 3 days later, I have lost over 13lbs. Just a smidge over the amount I lost during my first year of blogging. I have an exercise routine. I have a food program. I have a goal - which is very important to me. Without something to shoot for, I tend to go aimlessly and lose interest. I thought of the 50lb. goal I set for myself earlier. It’s a nice round achievable number. But in truth, I want more. I want 80lbs. Why not aim high? Right? Putting it here, out here on the web, where people can read it, is a bit daunting. So many what if’s come to mind. I choose to disregard them.
With November fast approaching, my writing group and I were discussing the NaNoWriMo challenge. National Novel Writing Month is a 30 day creative blitzkrieg where writers from all over attempt to write a 50,000 word original piece of fiction. A novel in a month. Actually an incredibly rough draft of a story in a month is more accurate. For the past two years, this challenge has been something which I have enjoyed immensely. All along I have said I was in. I had a rough idea for a story. I logged on to the Nano site. I set up my profile for this year and sat down to outline my story.
And once again nothing.
No story worth telling came forth.
No cool characters I could get excited about.
No interesting plot ideas.
No original place or names, gadgets or gizmos.
November 1st came and went. Nope. Still nothing.
Then the 2nd and the 3rd passed. I still had no clue what to write about.
I started to imagine what excuse I could give my writer friends for backing out of the writing challenge. The weekend arrived and all day yesterday I tried and tried to come up with a story idea. I received a worried email from a friend wondering if I was still Nano-ing. I want to, I felt like writing back to him. But I’ve got nothing. I looked at Lillian sitting all dusty on my desk. I opened my Lillian notebook and read some of my early ideas. The story is so different now than how I had envisioned it in the beginning. I flipped through some of the pages of my most recent draft. I still love that character and the others too – Nicki, Alejandro and Ian.
When I am not writing, I often wonder, so now what? If I am not meant to be a storyteller, then what am I? I envision other lives I could live. I conjure up alternate existences until I realize that all I am doing is telling myself a story, painting another reality in my mind, rather than on the page. It is usually about then that remind myself that I am a writer. I struggle with discipline. I lack self esteem. My creativity is often blocked and my pages stare blankly back at me. But I am a writer nonetheless. A struggling one, but one who knows enough to just keep at it.
In that notion, my main character surfaced. I like to write about people who have something to overcome. Who better fits this description than a writer with crippling writer’s block? It was a nugget of an idea at first. But over the space of a day I was able to flush it out into enough of a story to begin. I have a setting suitable for the cast of characters I’ve thought up. They seem like people I can get excited about spending the next month with. But most importantly, I have a tale worth telling. So I began. It’ll take me some time to catch up in my word count, but I feel better already.
While I spend November with my new heroine, Anabel Rogers, writing “The Neighbours”, Lillian had better not get too comfy on my desk, cause come December 1st; I’m circling back to spend some quality time with my number one girl once more.
- If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.