Sunday, April 14, 2013

With Every Caffeine Overdose Comes Frenzied Writing

As my loyal readers know, I am currently in the midst of participating in the April 2013 edition of Camp NaNoWriMo. A few months back, I had a story idea all planned out; ready to write once April Fool's Day began. However, as the days and weeks passed leading up to it passed, my creativity decided to play a few pranks on me. My initial story got shelved in favour of something else... then, that something else got shelved for a different something else. By the time the calendar switched over to April, I settled on a story idea I had only conjured up a few days before. The only thing I had going for me at 0:00:01 on Easter Monday was the names of my three main characters and some half-assed plot where they were in their forties, and banded together after they had enough of all the crime that had befallen their city, and became a small vigilante faction. However, like any participant who uses the words "writing" and "NaNoWriMo" in the same sentence, you through all caution to the wind, and make the best go of it.

Unfortunately, real life has decided to "put a crimp in my writing style." For the past couple of months I've been helping out one day a week at a volunteer income tax clinic; preparing the annual returns for a specific clientele. I've also been having meetings a couple other days a week for some personal issues that don't really need exploring at the current juncture. So, needless to say, my writing time is limited. Throw in the fact  the current lack of Springtime weather has affected my mood, and it has been a challenge to find the drive to write an intended 50,000 words in a calendar month.

Because of all of these factors, I begrudgingly decided to reduce my initial word goal for the April challenge. The organizers had thrown in a little wrinkle into their website coding where participants could set (or, in my instance, adjust) their own personal word goal for the month; thus, eliminating the rigidness of "Thou must write 50k!" As such, I slashed my initial goal by 30%, so I'm now attempting to write 35,000 words by month's end. It's helped alleviate some stress, and gives me something more realistic to shoot for this month. However, there is still the odd foible I have encountered since I've reconfigured my goal.

Case in point, after my latest meeting this past Saturday afternoon, I was planning on attending an event where a few participants would read samples of their writing. Seeing as there was a five-hour window between the end of my meeting and the event, I used it as an opportunity to make some progress on my current Camp NaNo project; at least, that was the intent. After successfully finding a perpetual Holy Grail: a free table and power outlet inside a coffee shop in downtown Toronto on a Saturday afternoon, I pulled out my laptop, plugged in the adapter, and prepared to get some serious work done. However, there was one slight little problem: the USB Flash Drive where I stored my Work-in-progress project was left sitting on the shelf of my computer desk... eighteen kilometres (11-1/4 miles) away. Naturally, I was disheartened; thinking I had a golden opportunity that I probably wouldn't have again for ages, only to be squandered because I didn't take a proper inventory before I left my apartment. Then, a ray of light fell upon me on that rainy Saturday afternoon.

Frustrated over my lapse, I decided to take advantage of the store's WiFi, and checked my Facebook. The organizer of the reading event I was attending posted an update to the event's page: one of the scheduled readers unexpectedly dropped out, and he was putting out a call to the other attendees in hopes someone would be interested in filling the void. Seeing it as an opportunity for redemption, I jumped at the offer, and said I would try to quickly whip something together. 75 minutes later I produced a short 577-word blurb utilizing the three leads from my Work-in-progress. Admittedly, it wasn't my most polished of works; made even more evident as it was quickly thrown together during the consumption of the middle 20 of my eventual 56 ounces of coffee during a seven-hour span that stretched from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Let this be a lesson to you kids at home: NEVER consume more that a maximum 24 ounces of coffee a day. Failure to do so will lead to severe bouts of insomnia.) However, as raw as it was, the small crowd in attendance appreciated the effort I put into it on such short notice.

My act of insanity is not something I encourage others to do if they want to be taken seriously as a writer. That being said, sometimes the ol' adage is true, "When one door closes, another one opens." However, it's best to enter through that opened door with a calm sensibility instead of barreling through it with a steamroller.

Happy writing, everyone!

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