Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"How I long for wisdom I do not yet have"

Silly Spins, with not enough time on her hands, signed up for the NaNoWriMo project. For those of you who haven't heard the buzz around the block, November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is an internet project to encourage people to really put their best effort into writing 50,000 words between Nov 1 and Nov 30.

So I've been going back through past writing, and I've settled on expanding a short story that I wrote many ages ago. It never went anywhere, although it's a good little story (sort of a futuristic urban fantasy). The character has been the most persistent, floating in and out of my head. So I'm going to take a stab at it.

But, of course, I'm nervous. As my last post indicated, I have a hard time sticking to something that can be boring or frustrating. And as much as I like writing, there really is a lot of just slogging through that's required. That there's a deadline is helpful. That other bloggers can access my word count is an even bigger incentive. Still, a defeatist voice inside says, it's going to suck...nothing good will come out of just a month of writing (without much editing...or you'll never a) sleep or b) reach the word count).

So I remembered that my favorite author, Octavia Butler, wrote a short essay on writing, called Furor Scribendi. So I dug it out and I found it reassuring, so I'll share some of it here:

"Here are some potential impediments for you to forget about:

"First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you are inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice.

"Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don't have it, it doesn't matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent...."

"Finally, don't worry about imagination. You have all the imagination you need, and all the reading, journal writing, and learning you will be doing will stimulate it. Play with your ideas. Have fun with them. Don't worry about being silly or outrageous or wrong. So much of writing is fun. It's first letting your interests and your imagination take you anywhere at all. Once you're able to do that, you'll have more ideas than you can use. Then the real work of fashioning them into a story begins. Stay with it.


She later added an afterword to the essay, in which she adds this bit about persistence: "I suspect that this is the most important thing I've said in all my interviews and talks as well as in this book. It's a truth that applies to more than writing. It applies to anything that is important, but difficult, important, but frightening. We're all capable of climbing so much higher than we usually permit ourselves to suppose.

"The word, again, is 'persist'!"

Well, I'm off to do a bit more learning (about faeries), so that in about 10 days I can give myself over to persistence.


Aravis said...

Those were wonderful words of inspiration you chose to share! Just remember that quality of writing doesn't matter for the sake of this contest, only the word count. The point is just to sit down and get it out. You can always go back after the contest is over and edit to your heart's content, so don't get too caught up in forming the perfect sentence. As for time, when I did this last year I would try to sit down for a short bit every day to write. Some days I couldn't get more than a couple of sentences, some days I would write pages. Some days I didn't write anything. You can do this. Just break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces instead of becoming overwhelmed by the bigger picture. You'll do great!

the urban fox said...

I second what Aravis said, and thanks for the inspiring words (or should that be persisting words?...)

Bee said...

I think the most difficult thing for me will be stopping myself from constantly going back over what I've already written and changing bits and pieces of it, rather than forging ahead and writing more new chapters. That's always been my trouble. But, like Aravis says, the point is to just churn the stuff out any old how and then go back to it later (if you want!).

Alecya Giovanni said...

I am adding my thanks too. Those were good things to remeber. I have an overediting problem.

Beloved told me last nigth she didn't think I would finish this year, so I am determined to do it now.

I look forward to reading yours (if you want to share) it sounds interesting.

Where do you go to learn about faeries?

red one said...

Oh, I LOVE this line:

Habit is persistence in practice

I shall think of all my dyed in the wool habits like this in future. Hooray! I am no longer a sad creature of habit, but a staunch persister!

Spin - it is NOT going to suck. I just don't believe it.

*cheers the writers on from sidelines *


ps AG - Where do you go to learn about faeries?
down the bottom of the garden, I think...

Alecya Giovanni said...


I thought you might get a giggle from this....


spinsterwitch said...

AG - I'm happy to say, I passed that exam with flying colors (okay, there was a near miss, but I don't have any elves, dwarves or orks planned for the novel...just faeries). As for where you learn about them, I am actually reading a lot of older faery stories...and there's a good book on "working with" faeries that I'm reading and will probably incorporate some of that stuff into it.

I'm glad you all enjoyed the quotes...

Red - Only small parts of me say that it will writing, that is, not the process.

LavaLady said...

The link to a progress meter you can put on your site if you choose. I did NaNoWriMo last year (didn't win though, got to about 13,000 words, I think, before I stalled, although I've worked on my story since, it's still NOT finished), and found the meter to be both carrot and stick.

I love the Octavia Butler quotes, thanks for those, and thanks for letting us in on your news. May you find all 50,000 words!


Lord Bargain said...

50,000 words.


anyone got a spare story knocking about?

*thinks about writing about faeries...*