Friday, November 14, 2008

reveling in revealing. by Patresa Hartman

This morning, in addition to being grateful for the miracle of the SNOOZE button (55 minutes worth), I am also grateful for all of the weird stuff in me. I don't mean biologically -- although I am grateful for organs and molecules and blood and strange little bubbling things -- but I mean the weird stuff that hangs out in my... brain? soul? Where are these things stored? My feet? The meat of my lower abdomen?

It is never more clear how odd my subconscious than in November when I participate in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Across the 30 days of November, writers all over the planet start with a blank page and then produce 50,000 words of a novel. That's a lot of wordage -- particularly for someone with historically poor follow-through (That's me.). There are three primary things that disturb me about the month of November:

1. I write very very poorly when pressed;
2. I develop crushes on my characters; and
3. I am in touch with alternate realities.

I don't fancy I am unique in this. I believe we are all tuned into some pretty unnerving behind the scenes activity. I am sure that living in a media blitz ingrains all kinds of characters and scenery in our hidden centers. Writing writing writing just uncovers them by scooping off the top protective layer. Writing becomes a lot like dreaming -- sorting through the images we have absorbed and aligning them into something that makes neurological sense.

There are many who begin NaNoWriMo with a researched outline, and I think that's smart. Beginning with focus streamlines the process, I would imagine. But I like to begin with an absolutely blank as blank as blank white screen. This year I began with two characters and two sites. Word One was Word One in its truest sense, and I have been surprised at every line since.

I do it this way, I think, because I am addicted t0 the spontaneous reveal -- the layer peeling, fly-by-the-seatedness of it. I feel like I am revealing my darkest truths and am fascinated by the capacity of words on a page to show me exactly who I am. Didn't I know all this time? I am obsessed with trying to figure out what I look like on the inside.


Angie Ledbetter said...

LOL on the NaNo experiences. Much like real life sometimes, I'd imagine. :) Write on!

Ami said...

I discover my innards through my writing, too. I don't think we're alone in this. I realized last night at my non-fiction critique group that even in an essay meant to be about my grandmother, my personal demons kept peaking out from behind the curtains.

Glad you're discovering during NaNo. I think going into it with just the basics of people and places is the best way to go, too.

Barbara Quinn said...

You are a brave soul to do this intensive writing because I do think that spriraling inward can get scary at times! Good luck on the journey.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I develop crushes on my characters, too -- ! And I also wish the characteristics of my characters were my characteristics - or the life they lead is the one I'm leading...etc...

I also write like you -blank page, no outline,

love the post...but, you need to get OUT OF MY HEAD.....! laughing.

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