Well, we're eleven days into the new year, and my resolution to write a book is still going strong. I'm 18,000-ish words into the manuscript so far, with another few thousand in plotting and character/setting stuff lurking in the background, so I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll be able to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. I chose 50,000 words because it's the same goal that people aim for during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I just want to prove to myself that I can do it, I guess. And then there's the fact that I want to get it done before school and my internship kick into high gear in February.
I feel like I've learned a lot about myself and about writing already, even though it's only been two weeks. I think it's because I've been making a concerted effort to write every day, which I haven't done for... a long time. Years, really. I've always considered myself a writer, but when I got RSIs in both wrists (repetitive stress injuries -- think tendonitis or carpal tunnel) a few years ago, the pain really discouraged me from writing. Even when I did write, it tended to be in spurts, since I found that writing every day would make my wrist injuries flare up more.
But thanks to physical therapy, it's been getting a lot better. I can also use dictation software now, and while my dictation skills are not quite at the level that I would like them to be, it's comforting to know that there's another way to write if typing becomes too painful. (And I get to use a Yeti! That's right, a real abominable snow creature helps me to dictate! ...Ok so I just have a Yeti microphone, but still. I like the name.)
So the last eleven days have been like a breath of fresh air. I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am when I'm writing. Going to art school, I've noticed that artists have a tendency to wrap their identity up in their art -- actors feel more comfortable in their own skin when they act, writers feel more confident in themselves when they write, painters feel more grounded when they paint... it's like we don't know who we are if we're not doing the form of art that we identify with. I wonder if other people feel this way, or if it's just an artist thing. For instance, do computer developers feel like they've lost their sense of self if they stop coding, or is it just a job?
To be fair, I'm not sure it's a very healthy way to be. I got really upset when I thought that I couldn't write anymore, and I've seen a lot of friends go through identity crises when they felt like their art form was being denied to them in some way. For instance, if you've always thought of yourself as an actor, but you can't make it professionally, are you still an actor if you stop acting? And if you're not an actor anymore, then who are you? It can really throw a person for a loop.
So it can be kind of neurotic. I'm not denying that at all. Someday, I hope for my identity to be more balanced and less wrapped up in writing. After all, there are a lot of different facets to my personality -- I love foreign languages, and travel, and theatre, and live events, and technology. I am lucky to have a lot of different passions, and writing is only one among many. But to be honest, my identity as a person is still totally intertwined with my identity as a writer. And it's been that way since I was... maybe twelve or thirteen? It's been a while.
For me, feeling like I've "earned" my identity as a writer has very specific parameters. First, I have to be actively working on something. And second, it has to be fiction. I've been blogging for years, but blog posts and other nonfiction writing has never felt like "writing" to me. Somewhere in the illogical part of my brain that measures my worthiness as a writer, nonfiction is under some strange heading like "chatting to people on paper." I don't know why.
Well, actually, that's a lie. I probably do know why. It's most likely because, for the longest time, I dreamed of becoming a novelist. While novelists do write nonfiction and blog posts, the most important part of their job is writing novels. So I feel pressure to be writing a novel (or at least a short story) all the time. But while I would still love to be a novelist, there are a lot of other jobs that I could see myself being happy doing as well. I think doing live event management would be amazing, as well as doing freelance writing for the new wave of blockchain technology (if you need any content or editing for a blockchain thing, we should talk!), but the need to write fiction continues to linger in the back of my mind.
So it's felt really good to give into that subconscious pressure to write fiction for the last couple of weeks. For one thing, it's fun! And for another, it feels great to finally turn to that snarky little voice in my mind that's always saying "You should be writing!" and be able to say "I am! So back off!" (Fellow writers, you totally know that snarky little voice I'm talking about. It's a real thing.) I don’t know if the novel I’m writing is any good, to be honest. It may never see the light of day. But I do know that I’m having fun writing it, and for now, that’s all that matters.
The Owl Hours
Pictures provided by Pixabay.