Ends and Continuums

An infinite number of finite moments ago, it was the end of October and I was sitting here, on the other side of your computer screen, writing about the momentous month ahead of us: November. Somehow it’s now December and November is an infinite number of finite moments ago and it feels like I haven’t said a word since.

In a word, it’s been busy–possibly even infinitely busy.

Should I begin at the beginning? I promise, it won’t take me forever.

At least not the long forever.

Wait, you say, there’s more than one forever? And if by that you mean there are multitudes of infinity, then you’d be correct–there are many levels of infinity, and when you get down to it, what you’ll find is infinitely amazing–and may cause your mind to cease for a moment. Or forever. One never can tell, can one?

I’m not here to ramble on about infinity (there are many places that do so far better than I–like this or even this), but instead to ramble on about something seemingly infinite that has now reached an end: November. And what’s ahead in December.

To sum it all up, I can walk you through a summary (see what I did there?) of additional NaNoWriMo comments I made on Facebook, much like last time (the first one was in response to a friend’s post and not directly related to NaNoWriMo, but I feel it relates to writing in general, so I’m adding it as well):

  • November 13: I find, when I’m writing, I let the words come like I would speak them. I imagine myself like the great orators of history, those philosophers who would stand in the forum speaking, not merely to their disciples crowded closely around, but to the masses, begging for all with ears to come and listen, begging everyone with a heart to hear me. Sometimes, it works; sometimes, it doesn’t. But all those unsuccessful attempts only make those moments of brilliance more amazing. So don’t think poetry is needed to make things evoke empathy. Poetry has structure, form, but passion is not required. Instead think of the spoken word–your spoken word–and write from the heart.
  • November 20: I think the biggest baddie of them all just showed up. #NaNoWriMo
  • November 20: First, you may say you’re in control of your characters, but I guarantee you they’re just letting you think you are–they hold the real power in any first draft. For example, I didn’t tell Kir he could jump off the cliff. But did that stop him? No, not at all.

    Next, never disregard gravity–even in fiction. If your friend jumps off a cliff and you try to save him, you’ll probably just end up falling after him instead. Just ask Cassidy. She knows.

    Finally, it took 40,000 words, but my first ship has finally set sail. #NaNoWriMo

  • November 23: It’s settled. My characters know more than I do. That seer I introduced in Chapter Twelve to move the story along? Turns out she’s been the one pulling the strings this whole time–she brought Kir et al. to Whyld, she left Cassidy stranded so she’d find the dark star, and she’s given Timur the guide to divination he needs to see how to defeat them. All because she saw the Third Book before I could see how this story would take me there. I’d love to say I’m a genius, but the credit isn’t mine. Now what’s her name? I still don’t know. #NaNoWriMo
  • November 29: Wanted: Inspiration. Rate: 6 pages/hour. Apply now. #NaNoWriMo
  • December 1: Every year I’ve had but one goal during NaNoWriMo: Reach 50,000 words AND finish my story. In all my seven years participating, this is the first year I have failed–for although I soared past 50,000 words, my story is far from complete. And I’m okay with that. It just means I get to enjoy writing it even longer. Who says I can only do this in November? If I could do it all this month, I can do it every day. #NaNoWriMo

Writing for the most part was smooth sailing after the Halfway Hump until after I reached 50,000 words and life started to threaten me with other obligations. However, I pushed past all of that and reached 71,166 words–the majority of which were handwritten (when I rewrote them on my computer each night, I often embellished, rounded out elements, and occasionally changed minor plot points to foreshadow future things I’d foreseen), totaling 390 pages, which ate up about four pens–that I started using November first. It was one of the most exhilarating NaNoWriMo experiences I’ve ever had–and it also was one of the hardest to relate to myself.

Normally, I feel like each story I write over NaNo is like a time capsule capturing my life at that moment–relating my mentality, the situations I’m involved in, and the inner struggles I’m undergoing to a story in which everything is ultimately resolved, in which I can make sense of all that chaos, effectively reducing something dynamic to a linear system with simple solutions. It didn’t happen like that at all.

I was back on campus right after Thanksgiving break, walking home from work one night, just wondering aloud to myself (as I often do when walking alone at night), asking, “How is this story me?” Here they are–fighting to save the world, building armies and going on adventures. They’re diviners, warriors, magicians–the children of gods. And here I am, strolling along the bricks, a math major without any direction. I could seemingly build no one-to-one correspondence between my life and the story. How could this be mine? How could I find myself in the story to see my passion wasn’t blind?

Then it struck me this is not a one-to-one relation–but it’s just as onto as any other. See, I couldn’t say “x relates to y” because the elements in my life didn’t become the elements in the story; rather, the elements in the story became parables for the angles of my life. One character alone was not there to define me–only by realizing each character stood for another facet of who I am did I begin to see the equivalence. And yet, the story stands on its own, separate from me, able to breathe and talk and walk. I became a vessel, but it held me just the same as I carried it through the ether onto paper.

As I mentioned before, this is the first time I haven’t finished writing a story during NaNoWriMo–and although I vowed to write every day, I haven’t. I’ve studied for finals and I’ve studied on top of finals and I’ve struggled to wake up in the morning for falling asleep too late at night. But once my finals are finished, it’s back to the book for me–this story very well may take another hundred thousand words to finish, but finish it I shall–and I’m eager to see it happen.

It’s not the only thing I’ll finish–I’ve got the third book of the Pirkei Avot to come back to, as well as all of my yearly goals. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since I first outlined these goals to myself, and even harder to believe that–for the most part–I’ve kept to all of them. Granted, I could keep better to some of them (I need to make exercising a habit now more than ever–but I’m still staying more active than I was a year ago simply by living on campus) and I could do more with others (I haven’t driven since this summer, after all), but on the whole, I’m pleased with my progress–and just as I was able to pull through NaNoWriMo with my first hand-written victory (whose word count exceeded last year’s typed), I will pull through with all of this.

And, trust me, I have a lot of ideas to share here over break.

And then hopefully more once the spring semester begins.

But as I allude to those continuums, this one must end–for now.

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