yesterday i threw a tantrum.

I threw a tantrum yesterday. I knew it was coming, had known it for quite some time in fact. It had been a while since I’d had one, I was about due I noticed. About a week ago when I was picking up my morning bagel at Bageltown it came to me like a word from above. A switch flipped and the currents changed inside of me, warming my nerves and preparing them once more for the inevitable. I looked down at my cinnamon raison bagel with lox cream cheese and asked it, will today be the day, bagel? The bagel said no, so I breathed a sigh of relief before biting into its poor little body.

The next day I inquired of a toasted buttered everything, it too shook its head in reassuring negatives. The next no came from a croissant, and I ate it quickly thereafter because I started to hate it. The next day’s bagel must have sensed my animosity because it remained poised and still in the face of my interrogation, still managing to give off a negative vibe. It wasn’t until yesterday that a saucy looking plain bagel, naked as the day it was born, showed no signs of response and immediately I knew, today is the day. It’s funny I should know without confirmation from my breakfast, but miracles happen every day, you know. I waited for three or four minutes before dressing and devouring my fortune-telling friend, hoping the world would explode in the meantime or I would go into septic shock or have a stroke or a heart attack or something evasive like that.

When the clock struck three minutes I gave in and ate it, hole in the middle and all. After that, I was peaceful. The world brightened, sharpened, touched me all over. My skin tingled. I felt the ghosts of bagels past riding on my shoulders, spectators in the sport they knew I would play in a short time. I smiled to the bagel guy standing behind the counter as I pushed open the door, bells tinkling their goodbyes as the sun shone into my eyes. I squinted. The world focused, I breathed a little.

I turned on my heel, shoved my right hand in my pocket and walked down the far left edge of the sidewalk, dodging oncoming traffic as my left hand slid over storefront windows. I watched my shoelaces to ensure they stayed tied, checking my back left pocket from time to time to confirm the presence of my wallet. The presence of my wallet is always comforting in times such as these.

Finally, after what felt like forty days wandering in the desert of the sidewalks of my city, the sliding doors of the supermarket opened at the touch of my absent-minded left fingers. I stopped. I squinted. I pirouetted and heaved a shallow sigh. The doors slid closed. I tapped my right foot three inches in front of me. The doors slid open. This time I didn’t let them close on me, and I thanked them as I passed.

I followed the familiar lines between the tiled floors with my feet and my eyes, marching my way, head down, to aisle nine. No one stopped me, and if they tried I didn’t notice. I forgot my basket, I murmured as I entered the pasta aisle. I checked my watch, realizing there was no time for my basket anyway. Slowly, almost dreamily, I lifted my eyes to the sight of blue and yellow boxes, filled with who knows how many starchy mini-statues. I stepped closer to the farfalle, my nose grazing the plastic that revealed the bows to my wondering eyes.

And then I was on the floor once more, covered in yellow bows, yellow sticks, yellow tubes, even some red ones, cardboard under my feet, my head, my elbows.

“Clean up on aisle nine!” a voice from heaven called. I started to giggle. I checked for my wallet, still there. My eyes closed as I listened for the old familiar pattering of rubber-clad feet coming for me.

This has been a story brought to you by one of Wesley’s recent free-writing sessions. Just a little peek into what goes on in her mind when she lets it go.

me

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i’ve done something i never thought i’d do.

Well, here I am, almost two weeks in, and I’ve written close to 20,000 words of my novel. That’s a whole lot of words.

When I first started writing, it was in a journal, for myself, because I thought it was cool based on what I had seen in the movie Cruel Intentions (don’t worry, this was when I was in ninth grade). You can see my full explanation in my very first post on this blog, here.

Then, when I first started writing for other people, I mainly wrote nonfiction. I wrote blog posts, I wrote articles, I wrote the occasional poem.

I had written a little bit of fiction here and there, mainly as classroom assignments, but I had never explored it much past that.

Earlier this year, when I went to a writing workshop the week I moved to Massachusetts, I tried to write some more fiction. I wrote short pieces, easy pieces, but I wrote them. And I liked it. And I didn’t die.

So fifteen days ago, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, not because I’m suicidal, but because I thought I might as well try. I had already written things I didn’t think I was capable of writing, and I had already started on a novel idea even though I knew I would never finish it, so I signed myself up.

So here I am, over a third of the way finished with my 50,000 word goal for the month.

To be honest, I don’t think I actually believed that I could do this, or that I would. But I’ve just kept writing. Some days I write a lot, some days I don’t, but whatever happens, I sit down and add on to the words I wrote the day before. And the words just keep piling up.

I don’t know about you guys, but big projects intimidate me. “50,000 words!” I think, “I’ll never be able to do that!” But when it’s a daily goal, when it’s step by step, little by little, I start to realize that 50,000 isn’t all that bad.

I’m still not sure whether I’ll make it to 50,000. I don’t even know if I’ll have an ending for this novel. I certainly don’t have one now. But I do know that I’ve done something I never thought I’d do, and I’m going to keep at it until I can’t do it anymore. And hopefully that will be when my novel is over.

Wish me luck.

-me

the truth in fiction

I need to work on my elevator speech for this novel. Currently, when people ask me what it is about, I say something along these lines:

“Well, it’s sort of…I’m writing about…well it’s funny because it sounds like it’s about me, but it’s not….it’s about this girl, who grew up in Nashville, and she goes into the music industry, which I know is what happened to me…but she’s been in marketing so that didn’t happen to me, and it’s not real events in my life, I’m just sort of pulling from my knowledge, so it’s totally fiction, it’s just based off of my life. But not really. And something dramatic is going to happen.”

Doesn’t that just make you want to grab a blanket, cuddle up and start reading?

Like I said, I’ve got some work to do.

It’s true, I am writing a novel about a girl who grew up in Nashville who ends up working in the music industry, and it’s true that I did both of these things. But this novel is not about me. While it comes from my knowledge (as all writing does), and I am certainly pulling from experiences and observations in my life, this is not a novel about my life, the people in my life, or what I really think about everyone in Nashville even though I’d never have the guts to say it to their faces.

I am just writing what I know. And I admit, I’m not venturing far off the path of truth to get to the fiction, but this is my first novel, and I’m not ready to write about Vampires on Mars in 1000 BC. (Yet). And I can put passion into these words, because even if the events in the novel didn’t actually happen, I know based on my real experiences how my main character would react to certain situations. And yes, in a lot of ways the book will be about my life, but in many ways, it will not.

Yesterday, I got stuck. I found myself thinking when I woke up that here I was, 9,000 words in, and I had to get somewhere. I had spent enough time leading up to what was going to happen, so now that thing, it needed to happen. The trouble was, I still wasn’t quite sure what that thing was yet. I had some ideas, and I probably could have gone with them and been marginally successful, but they seemed like they would have felt forced, or not “true.”

And then, on the other side of the coin, I had what I felt like was the truth. Not truth in the sense that I would simply tell the story of actual events. It was truth in that I knew I could write from a real part of me and would feel like I wasn’t just making things up out of the blue to fabricate an interesting story.

I have no idea whether this makes sense to anyone else, so I apologize if you are completely lost right now. I don’t think I fully understand it myself. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m starting to more fully understand what it means to be a writer, to realize the struggles that come with it. Honestly, I’m scared to tell the truth in my writing. Because even if it’s fiction, it’s still bearing a part of my soul that most of me wants to keep hidden and safe. But I also know that the best writing comes from writers who have learned how to be dangerous, how to be more honest with the world than they ever wanted to be.

I still haven’t gotten to the point where I need to decide where my story is going. Instead of moving forward, I went back and added in a backstory that I felt would help me and the (hypothetical) reader get to know my main character better. In other words, I put it off, because I didn’t want to deal with it yet.

Wherever I go with it, I know that I will do my best to write the truth in my fiction. I just haven’t decided how truthful I’m really ready to be.

-me

six days in

Well, I’m six days in. ┬áIn case you didn’t read last week’s post, I’m writing a novel this month. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

So far I have written 8,400 words. I don’t have an exact word count because I started out hand writing, but I’m pretty sure I’m at around 8,400, which is about where I should be for today. I need to write another 1000 words or so today to stay on track, but that will come tonight, won’t it?

I’ll tell you one thing, it may be hard to write 1,700 words a day, but it sure is gratifying. I haven’t felt this fulfilled creatively in quite some time, and I honestly think it’s making me happier in general. I feel like I’m really accomplishing something, and the best part is, I’m doing it on my own.

I have to be honest, I don’t really know where my novel is going. But it’s going, and that’s all that matters at this point. I used to think that writers planned their entire novels out before they put pen to paper, but I’ve learned recently that that’s just wrong. A lot of novelists say they have absolutely no idea where they are going until they get there, and I feel fine about mine being that way too.

It’s amazing to me that I’m actually writing a novel, though. This is by far the most fiction I’ve ever written, and I’m consistently dumbfounded as to how the words end up on paper. I find myself thinking “am I really just making this stuff up?” and I sort of feel like a fraud. But that’s all writers are anyway, isn’t it? Creative liars.

There are days when I haven’t started writing yet that I can’t think of the next thing to write. But then I sit down, I look at where I left off, and I start typing. And slowly but surely, the words come. And I can go back later and delete anything I want, so I am free to write whatever comes to mind. Even if it will end up boring the reader, it may help me with character development, or give me a great plot idea, so I never feel like I’m wasting my time.

If anyone reading this is participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d love to know how you are doing, what’s working for you, what isn’t, how many characters you’ve killed just for fun. We’re all in this together.

Now, if only I could add these words to my daily count.

-me.