Mad dash to the finish for NaNoWriMo

Van Gogh's Night Cafe

National Novel Writing Month will be over in exactly 24 hours, and I’ve only got 48,000 words. The finish line is in sight, and by midnight tomorrow I’ll have to crank out at least 2000 more. I’m determined to do it, even if I have to pull an all-nighter the way I did for college term papers.

I hope the NaNoWriMo  administrators never read this blog post, because I’ve got a confession to make – I cheated a little. At about 35,000 words, like a marathoner, I hit a wall, and I knew I’d never make it at the rate I was going, so I copied a few online articles relevant to my research and pasted them into my document. Methods of suicide, assisted dying and state laws about same – fun stuff like that. Only a few thousand words, but enough to help me over what would otherwise have been a hopeless hurdle.

Even so, I’m proud to say that about ninety percent of the words are mine, all mine. Of those, I hope more than half are the actual first draft of my new novel. Those I’ve been formatting in traditional black type, double spaced. But they’re interspersed with miscellaneous meanderings. Many are about the developing plot and the evolving characters. I type those in single-spaced red. Green is for personal ramblings that have little to do with the novel – except that often they lead to new ideas for my fictional tale. And purple is for blog posts like this one, which I’m also copying and pasting into one enormous, unwieldy document.

I’m writing scenes about whatever captures my fancy at any given time, without worrying about where they may eventually end up in the book. Which point of view I pick depends on my mood – sometimes it’s Paula Rhodes, the temperamental CEO of Compassionate Care, the home care agency inspired by ElderSource, Inc., which I ran in the 1990’s. Sometimes I’m drawn more to Claire Lindstrom, the idealistic nurse who was my main protagonist in Eldercide. And then there’s the evolving character of Carolyn, who assisted at the death of her husband, who was suffering from the end stages of pancreatic cancer.

Edvard Munch - The Scream

My printer may have died, but I don’t have time to diagnose what the problem is and whether it’s fixable or I need to buy a new one. So I don’t yet have a hard copy to work with, nor have I reread most of what I’ve written. Sometimes I scroll back to read the last scene in order to hazard a guess as to what comes next, but by and large I’ve managed to banish my inner critic.

When December arrives, I’ll do a “save as” and begin dividing this humungous document into manageable sections. Then I’ll see what I’ve come up with and where I go from here. At that point I’ll have the luxury of slowing down and maybe letting that inner critic to have her say.

Though I’ve written four novels and published two of them, I’ve never worked this way before, but I’m enjoying it. Most importantly, the NaNoWriMo challenge has inspired me to barrel through the creative block that plagued me for so long, to get back to my writing, and to discover that my muse hasn’t deserted me after all.

 

Entropeia – Goddess of Disorder

Kali

I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of entropy, the idea that chaos and disorder tend to increase in a closed system. I’m not talking about the scientific explanations – the second law of thermodynamics and all the inscrutable equations that remind me of why science courses terrified me in college. Rather, I’m using the term the way sociologists do, as a measure of what Merriam-Webster describes as “chaos, disorganization, randomness.”

 As a description of my life, sometimes those words seem all too apt. Another definition I like describes entropy as “a measure of the unavailability of energy in a closed system” – not a bad description of clinical depression, when life closes in claustrophobically and it’s hard even to get out of bed. I’ve only recently emerged from over a year of living in this sorry state, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

A year ago, in the depths of my doldrums, I summoned the energy to write a poem in which entropy takes on the guise of a goddess. Here it is:

Entropeia

I’m Entropeia, Goddess of Disorder

Shape shifter, seductress

Enticing as your cat Lunesta

Purring and writhing on your desk

Unsheathed claws swatting the mouse

Knocking your pens and papers to the floor

Where they remain untouched for days on end

 

Over the years I’ve worn away

The letters at the center of your keyboard

A dozen keys, blank as an erased blackboard

Your fingers blindly grope for vanished symbols

You used to know by heart

 

Words become maddeningly elusive

Refuse to reveal themselves

Hide in the plaques and tangles

Of your aging brain

I wield Time’s Arrow

Wound you with panicked fear

Of irreversible dementia

 

I lure you with endless hours

Of Spider solitaire

Clawed hand cramping the mouse

You bargain with time for one more game

And throw away another day

Blundering on with stinging eyes

Till darkness falls

 

Nature tends from order to disorder

In isolated systems

That’s the entropic law that guides my every move

Your every lonely act or lazy lack of action

Under my ruthless reign

You fall apart

 

Athena

I’m delighted to report I no longer feel I’m falling apart, and I’ve managed to transcend my writer’s block and fear of dementia. But the other manifestations of disorder and chaos remain major issues. Lunesta still writhes around on my desk and tries to swat the mouse to the floor, and yes, she’s named for the sleeping pill I still take every night.

And I’m still using the same keyboard with the rubbed-away letters. The year of nonproductivity impacted on my touch typing ability, and I make more typos than I used to. Still, on the whole, life is good.

 

 

 

 

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