I'm doing NaNoWriMo again. That's one reason why I've been quiet lately. (Other reasons: Not gaming as much as I was, not running anything, busy getting settled into work/new apartment/post-college life.)
It's weird. I'd totally sworn of NaNoWriMo the last time I did it. Forever. Succeeded twice, failed twice, decided I'd learned all I could from it and that it was time to move on to Real Writing. And now I'm back at it.
I'm doing it partly because DrRotwang announced he was doing it for the first time, and it's always good to support first-timers. Partly to keep me busy while I get back on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication.
Have I mentioned that here? I got whacked with the depression stick pretty bad in middle school. Managed to get that under control at the time, but looking back it was an issue on and off for most of college.
It’s tough for me to get a sense of perspective on it because I don’t have the crippling, free-floating, self-esteem battering emotional regulation issues that have landed a couple of my friends and acquaintances in the hospital recently, and de-railed work and school for others. What I do have is a lot of anxiety and a hard time telling when I’m getting anxious, so it alters my behavior in ways I’m not always aware of. The last six to twelve months have involved a lot of both figuring that out and attempting to get a handle on it. One conclusion I’ve had to draw is that it’s started to affect my gaming (and maybe always has). That’s one of the big reasons I want to get it under control. Not being able to DM because of how nervous making things up on the fly makes me is no fun at all.
Medication seemed to help towards the end of school, but then I stopped taking it for various stupid reasons, so now I’m having to go through the unpleasant, why-is-this-making-my-symptoms-worse?!! process of getting back adjusted to it. Writing doesn’t help, exactly, in the sense that it makes me feel better. It keeps me occupied, though, and it helps me feel grounded.
It’s good to get back in touch with that. I did a lot of writing in college. I was an English major, as I will never tire of telling people. But it was a lot of very busy, very harried, very fragmented, very goal-focused, and often not-very-fun writing. I mostly lost track of my old high school habit of carrying a notebook around with me everywhere and writing whatever, whenever, wherever. I have an entire shelf full of these notebooks. If there’s anything you admire about my writing “style,” those notebooks are probably why. I’ve written a lot. Just sheer volume of words.
And, you know, focus and goals and piece completion and all that is good. I’m proud of a lot of the work I did in that English program. Even the research papers, although mostly what I learned from them is that I don’t ever want to go near an English Masters program oh god get it away from me. The reading I had to do for those classes made me a better writer, and I absolutely, positively, one hundred percent am a better writer because of the things I talked about and learned and had to write for my workshop classes.
But I kind of lost that sense of writing as this self-contained thing that lets me structure the world. It was constantly, as Steven King would say, “writing with my door open.” I got better at writing, but I was doing it for classes, for peers, for teachers, for friends. Sometimes for friends I was working on projects with. Not for myself.
NaNoWriMo, and this story I’m working on? Completely, totally, one hundred percent for me. This is good. The story itself is kind of terrible, and it’s tough, but every time I knock out another two thousand words I’ve learned something new about it, and I don’t have to worry about how anyone else is going to evaluate it in two weeks. Or maybe ever. If I show it to anyone else, it’ll be because I want their feedback, and I want to make it better.