Panda’s 2018 Writing Process

Yes, I know that it’s nearly half a month into this new year, and that this process should have been given a little more thought beforehand, but it wasn’t until I was sitting at my desk with several notebooks open (and an incipient migraine pounding at my forehead) that I decided that this was what I was going to do.

It’s simple, I understand that, but it’s what I’m going to have to do in order to get any writing done this year.

See, I’ve gone back to writing fanfic for the time being. Don’t laugh, okay? Last year I was introduced to a new fandom that has taken over my brain, and I’m enjoying using these people as characters. And between all of us, I think it’s more complicated to write a fanfic than an original piece, simply because you didn’t create the characters. Sure, you have a lot of poetic license and are free to play around with the characters at your leisure, but sometimes the characters are real people with real personalities, and, well, it can be difficult.

But not this one. This one’s been fun to write thus far. And is is being posted in chapters online for the whole world to see.

But what I have to do is, every day, I have to type up everything that’s been written by hand. That way I don’t spend entire days just trying to get caught up, rather than writing new stuff. That’s the goal for 2018.

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49,917/50,000

83 words. That’s how close I was to winning this year’s NaNoWriMo. 83 words.

This year, I took a break from what I’ve been writing all year to put something down on paper that Koala and I have been tossing around for a few weeks. I decided to write a fan fiction story about a couple of fake pundits and a European rock star, though in this story they were none of these things. They were three kids in high school caught in a love triangle, and I only got about halfway through the story so I don’t know how it ends up.

If it’s anything like real life, I don’t think anyone will end up happy, truth be told. But that’s a different story for a different day, and a different blog.

I was told a few times that I didn’t care about winning, but I guess deep down I kind of did. Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me that this constitutes a win. That I was so close that it actually kind of hurts that I couldn’t get those last few words. But it was 11:58 PM on November 30th, and my brain and fingers both just… gave up.

But, like one of the tags in this entry say, fan fiction is totally 100% a real thing. I mean, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like it’s cheating, like you’re stealing someone else’s characters in order to make your own work, but at the same time it’s kind of fun to pretend. Especially when there is no real canon for the characters that you’re using. For example, right now my muse (aka my girlfriend) has been whispering to me about this college-type story that takes place at Berkeley, and involves the hosts of Pod Save America, and The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. Now, I know for a fact that at least one of those hosts has met the Klep in real life, but I don’t know the circumstances of that at all. I can just make assumptions.

And that’s where the fan fiction comes in. It’s going to be the assumptions that I make.

Now, is it advisable to be creating something brand new when I’ve had three or four projects started up this year that may never get finished? Probably not. But that’s certainly not going to stop me from starting this. And of course I’m going to have a little help from my muse; she and I love writing together. 98% of my best stuff has come as a result of writing with her.

The Unplanned NaNoWriMo

I told myself last year that I wasn’t going to actually participate in NaNoWriMo. Of course I did, but I didn’t do it officially. I attended write-ins and hung out with my friends and it was a good time all around. Of course it was a good time; I find the whole event to certainly be worth something. But I was also told that setting such a goal for my kind of writing, for the story that I had been working on, was unrealistic. That I should just sit down and write, and if I only write a paragraph instead of several pages, that was fine. It’s not fine in the NaNoWrimo scheme of things, but in terms of actual writing it’s perfect.

Fast forward to a year later. I’m no longer in Dearborn, Michigan but rather in Buffalo, New York.

And until this very moment, I had no intention of doing NaNoWriMo. I honestly didn’t. I was just going to ignore it this year; after all, it’s a different group of people whom I heard were not nearly as into it as my Detroit Wrimos, so what’s the point?

The point? The point is to write. And, of course, when you’re living with your muse, coming up with new story ideas is something that happens, well, on a daily basis. Like, what happened tonight. I got a new story idea planted in my brain, and now? Now I’m doing my damnedest NOT to try and write it before the first of November.

Silence, the Move, and the Point of an MFA

I feel like I haven’t written anything in a month. And not just here in this blog, but in general. Draft Zero was unceremoniously put “on hold” as life events that felt as if they were completely out of my control came racing into the foreground. I mean, I shouldn’t complain; as of the time I’m writing this entry I still have a job and I have a roof over my head. Granted, that roof is no longer in Dearborn, Michigan, but rather in Buffalo, New York. So that’s a pretty big life change. I didn’t really expect to move, though deep down I think we all know that I kind of needed to, and when I made the decision it wasn’t a long, drawn-out thing. I rented a U-Haul, took a weekend, moved 95% of my stuff to my new apartment, and then lived in a hotel for two weeks.

Two weeks, and I’m flat broke. I honestly have no idea how I’m going to make rent next month.

But where does this leave me and my writing? Well, nowhere. It’s exactly where I left it the last time I blogged. I’ve opened my notebooks and the Scrivener file, and yet all I’ve done is worried about every other goddamned thing in my life. Writing was, is, and always will be some kind of release for me, and yet when I needed it the most it completely fucking vanished. And NOW? *sigh* Now I don’t even have a desk to write ON. I’m going to have to go to a library every single day if I want to write (which wouldn’t be SO bad because there’s no air conditioning at my apartment and I can’t even open the windows thanks largely in part to the fact that I have no screen in the window) until I can make enough money to at least attempt to put a desk in my room.

Oh. Also, I have yet to unpack my stuff. I officially moved yesterday so I’m giving myself a little leeway here.

But now I’m here in Buffalo, I’ve been thinking about something — going back to UB and getting my MFA. How awesome would that be, right? Yay graduate school! Except… now that I’m finally sitting here writing on Pomodoro Time, I’m wondering if that would even be worth it. I mean, is it worth it? Is an MFA in creative writing something that is even necessary? What would I learn in graduate-level writing courses that couldn’t be taught to me in undergraduate-level courses? I’m still looking into it; simply because if I could get some financial aid that fat refund check would be awesome.

Ugh. This millennial needs to start looking for a second job and do it on the double.

Year of the Panda: The Eternal Stall

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
— Charles Bukowski

God bless this man. Seriously. Because, in a way, he’s totally right. Writing about writer’s block is better than sitting here, staring blankly at the screen, wishing for something, anything to fucking come.

And, believe me. It wants to come, except this time around I have no idea why it isn’t.

It could be that I’m genuinely fed up with the rest of my life. I’m over this current living situation and really looking forward to the next phase. It could be that I’m so stressed out at work that I don’t really want to do anything except sleep whenever I’m not at Starbucks. It could be that I’m stuck and I need to work through the block but there is so much trying to flow through the gate that it’s hindering itself. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I need. To. Write. I feel impotent, and worse? I feel like my depression and anxiety are coming back full force because I’m not writing.

Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. I am writing, every day in fact, even if it’s in my journal pictured here. I’ve been trying to write in this book here every day, ever since I got back from/went to Buffalo to go house hunting with Koala. Actually, that wasn’t the purpose of the trip. The actual purpose of the trip was to see her, but we got a house out of the deal so I consider it an all-around victory. Fuck, can I just go off on a tangent here and say that I miss her? Like, a lot? Because I do. I accidentally got a night to cuddle and it was the most awesome night ever. Never mind wings and beer, never mind driving around just talking. Collapsing in bed with her was truly spectacular, and it made me realize that it’s not just human contact, but the right human contact that I’ve been craving (Also, all of that tangent was written by me but, as I wrote it, I could hear Andy Cohen dictating it to me in my head. Fucking strange).

As of this very moment, I am seriously debating just going to bed, setting an alarm, and forcing myself to get up early and go somewhere. Anywhere. Packing my shit and taking off. I mean, sure I just did that — I was back in the B for cryin’ out loud! — but I did a lot of hanging out in my hotel room watching TV and getting nothing accomplished. I guess I don’t really have the option to do that anymore, do I.

Ugh. Okay. Bed. Tomorrow’s another day.

The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo

Since January, I’ve written approximately 41,000 words.

Six months. 41,000 words. Not really something to trumpet for someone who often considered finishing NaNoWriMo an accomplishment.

And while I don’t want to take away the fact that yes, this totally is an accomplishment, it’s dangerous at the same time. Because, if I’m going to be wholly honest with all of you, I’ve never once gone back to rewrite (or even re-read) anything I’ve ever written for NaNo. And usually, when I do, I find what I’ve written to be total shit. Complete and total shit.

But this? This story is different. I’m not writing this for speed, I’m writing this because I need to. Because I love to write. And it’s because of this, because of the fact that if I don’t feel like writing I don’t feel like I’m a complete failure, that I feel as if this project may actually go somewhere.

And now, some words of wisdom from stage and film’s Lin-Manuel Miranda:

I don’t care that this tweet is three years old, it rings so true it kind of hurts.

So here I go. Back to the writing I go.

Year of the Panda: The Table of Contents (Again)

When I embarked on this journey, I had a few ideas written down on paper not in prose form, but in outline form. And as the story continued, as the story evolved, I wrote down more ideas, but in prose form and not in outline form. And as that continued, the ideas and prose and outline all grew… completely the fuck out of control.


As it stands right now, there are 22 chronological chapters in this here masterpiece. I know that this isn’t really anything in comparison to some stories, but for me this is HUGE. I don’t ever get this far, especially in just the planning stages.

But, here I am. Planning and writing, writing and planning, and getting so little done that any hint of productivity feels like a call for celebration. Perhaps a salad to celebrate the fact that I at least got some of the outline written out…