Reasons, not excuses: reasons!

Someone (me) went quiet on the blogsphere for a spell. Left you hanging right in the middle of the account of my stalker’s latest arrest.

Mea culpa. I am at fault.

I have great excuses for the word void. None of which are the least bit defensive. In fact, let’s just not call them excuses, but really great and valid and legitimate reasons for not writing. For example: in November, I jumped into a little competition called NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month. The premise is you have 30 days to write a novel, which is defined as 50,000 words.

I used NaNoWriMo to jump-start to continue writing a memoir about being stalked by my next-door neighbor. There was a lot of work that needed done, that I’d procrastinated, that piled up. It was literary housecleaning. Organizing old blog entries into a Word doc. Digging through old emails, copying-and-pasting them in between the blog entries—editing would come later … except for the few random notes jotted in between the content. Reminders of this and that, to include later. Notes: ask my friend Pat about this stray detail, or to bug my dad about another detail.

Leading to more sorting through some embarrassing, and some good, journal entries. More copy-paste, throughout the growing manuscript. Chucking snippets catastrophically throughout. Adding more notes, while jogging more memories. Asking myself, Was I really that bad off? (Answer: yes.)

The work went well and I won NaNoWriMo, finishing ahead of schedule and over the word count. A (painfully awkward) draft of 85000 words now needs editing with a flamethrower.

However, there are consequences. You’ve heard them before. After burning myself out on Round One of the stalking memoir, went into Round Two knowing full on well that I needed to pace myself. Otherwise, the memories are too painful. To a point, I followed those self-imposed rules, then got on a roll, then conveniently forgot my limits, and consequently … needed a three-week writing break.

Who never learns? I never learn.

However, what prevented total burnout was another change to those writing habits. Socialize more. Talk to real and (somewhat) healthy human beings without getting completely enmeshed with reliving the Dark Years.

During the NaNo sprint, found and joined a series of writing groups. Full of other writing-nerd introverts who also realized their need to break out of writing’s silent isolation. Besides remembering how to use the speaking part of our words, writing in a group motivates us to continue writing. We no longer wonder if the outside world is having fun without us. Now, we’re somewhat out in it!

Nearly everyone in the writing groups (but me) is drafting sci-fi novels. One of the guys is getting published soon. Another writer has a stack of notecards with scribbled notes about the Civil Rights Movement. I deflect when they ask what I’m writing—saying something witty like, “it’s not as cool as sci-fi” and or simply “a memoir.” It's not dodging the truth. For a group of strangers, it’s too distracting to dump a huge life experience on them. People don’t know what to say. Or feel like they need to offer sympathy. Or sometimes, it triggers secondary trauma. It’s awkward. For all of us. Especially while realizing one moment of soul-baring accidentally triggered some poor innocent’s public meltdown.

Regardless, it’s good getting out of the house. We meet in noisy coffee shops and pubs with cozy roaring fires. Sitting at long tables, frowning into glowing laptops. Realizing that every bellowed moan and grunt needs to be toned down a notch. During breaks, we pretend to socialize while taking nervous, sidelong glances at our glowing laptop screens. Wanting to get back to work.

Which leads us back to my stalker's recent arrest. And me leaving you hanging. Next week. I'll have it next week. 

Back to frowning at a laptop ...

One day, my novel will join this bookshelf.

One day, my novel will join this bookshelf.