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Nanowrimo 2013 Journal – Days 5 to 8

on November 9, 2013
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The view from my “office,” in the passenger seat somewhere on the West Gate Bridge, Melbourne, Australia. Photo taken on an iPhone 5C. 5 November 2013.

Tuesday 5 November. 12.30 PM

I sat up late last night trying to write. It is clear that I don’t work well in noisy circumstances. It doesn’t matter what the noise is, I can’t multitask well. At midnight last night it was the television that proved to be the major source of distraction. This morning it became clear that the public holiday meant that the neighbourhood would be filled with noise. People arguing in their yards, using power tools, and radios turned up loud. Our plans to have a quiet day at home had to change.

So, I am now going to write by hand, in a notebook in the car, as we take an impromptu road trip to rural Victoria to escape the noise. I’ll have to type my hand written notes into my manuscript later – but I’d much rather do that than spend a fruitless day trying to engage my creativity in the ceaseless noise and mental clutter of my suburban neighbourhood.

It does dig up some concerns that have steadily eaten away at me since early 2005, when I moved to the suburbs for the first time in my life. Prior to that I had lived in rural Australia for more than two decades, most of that in a small farming community, and a few years in a town in a more industrialised but still rural area. I guess that because my formative years were spent in a place that is generally pretty quiet, with lots of natural aesthetic beauty and quiet and space between the houses, I’ve never adjusted well to the constant light, noise, and claustrophobia of suburbia. While it has its positive points – specifically, the friends that I have made here, and a surprising variety of native bird life – overall I am just not able to find the silence, space, restfulness and thinking room I need to draw on my creative side while I am living here. I hope that will change.

Ah, but I digress. This wasn’t meant to be my life story in the form of lamentations. This was simply a note to say that today my Nanowrimo writing will be taking place from the passenger seat in the car, by hand, in a notebook, en route to blessed peace in rural Australia.

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My writing view, 6 November 2013.

Wednesday, 6 November. 11.57 AM.

I love the spring sunshine. Warm weather, a nice spot in the shade, and the only noise is the bird song. Today should prove to be a fruitful writing day. At least, I hope it will, because I’m a fair way behind in my word count.

Current word count: Approximately 4,109 Words.

Thursday, 7 November. 8.18 PM.

I made a heap of progress yesterday. This is the first moment I’ve had to just sit down today, though.

I am enjoying the NaNoWriMo process so far. I think there is a big benefit to the short, though intense, duration of the month. It’s only thirty days. Writing approximately 1,700 words a day for thirty days is entirely within my abilities – as long as I can manage my time.

It seems to be about prioritising my time. Yes, there is a huge pile of washing needing to be ironed, folded and put away, but as long as everyone has enough underwear to get through the next few days, then I have to learn that I don’t need to make apologies for pursuing my own desire to write.

As a housewife and stay at home parent it is tempting to put my own interests and ambitions to the bottom of the laundry pile. The problem is, the laundry pile NEVER ENDS. I have had to push through a lot of pain to get to the point I’m at. The fact is, kids don’t stay small and needy forever. But dreams simmer away in the back of my mind and now, give them a bit of space, and the ideas and creativity come pouring out. All those years of day dreaming that one day I would write a novel is being effectively channelled through this useful system of  accountability. The fact is, it’s very hard to stop writing when you know that a bunch of people are cheering you on – whether it’s the people you have never met in real life and only know via their online avatars, or it’s those rare and wonderful friends who encourage you in your dreams and won’t laugh at you for wanting to be something more than the label your current stage of life has applied to you.

The fact is, I can do this. I can write. I can make up a story. I can develop characters, including characters who are different from me and not a thinly veiled variant on my own personality (this is a new revelation to me – I think the brilliant book A Novel In A Year by Louise Doughty deserves my gratitude in this area!).

I tend to dismiss my creative abilities. It is too easy to talk myself down, to refer to myself as “just” a mum (as if being a mother was ever just a thing). In the meantime, I have also been a volunteer worker, finished two university degrees, and occasionally sold my art designs. So, when I think that I haven’t done much, that’s not true. It might not always appear to be much in the eyes of the people outside me, but it is enough. It’s more than enough.

It’s funny that something so straightforward as a 30-day writing competition has brought all this other stuff to mind. It’s the realisation that I can do this, if only I just set aside the time to do it. On some days it might be ten minutes, other days I’ll get four hours, but the key thing is to take what time I can and run with it. Writing, in itself, is something I have always done. Writing is, for me, like breathing. What the NaNoWriMo experience is showing me is how to take my scattered ideas and channel them into something more cohesive, with a beginning, middle and end. Though I must add that in all practicality I seem to be writing it in chronologically scattered fragments. I keep track of these by means of several hand-written timelines!

There is every likelihood that my humble little first attempt at a complete novel may never see the light of day, but that’s okay. I really love this line on the NaNoWriMo website’s FAQ section, under the question, “Why bother?”:

Art for art’s sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and “must-dos” of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and fun, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous whimsy into our lives.*

I think that really sums it up for me. Writing is fun, creating is fun, developing ideas is fun, and it’s taken what would otherwise be a routine November and given it a sense of active purpose, with tangible results.

Another thought: the reason I am blog-journalling my way through this experience is to engage in a process called “reflexivity.” For me, it’s  not just about writing and developing a new skill set in the process. It’s about considering it’s effects on me, and how the process changes me and my view of the world by reflecting on my experiences. It’s a concept used in feminist forms of social theory, but ever since I learned about reflexive thinking, I’ve been applying it to most areas of my life.

Current word count: 7579 words.

My NaNoWriMo Profile

My RedBubble Profile

My 2013 NaNoWriMo Journal

*Reference: https://nanowrimo.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/topics/27085-national-novel-writing-month, “If I’m just mindlessly writing 50,000 words, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?” Accessed 7 November 2013.

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One response to “Nanowrimo 2013 Journal – Days 5 to 8

  1. […] earlier blog post about how I miss the country and find it hard to be creative in this […]

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