“[L]ife is a good thing for a writer. It's where we get our raw material, for a start. We quite like to stop and watch it.”
Neil Gaiman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Day 22: On Taking One's Own Advice
Mon 2010-11-22 23:45:18 (in context)
  • 40,471 words (if poetry, lines) long

Mondays are often hard. (This has come up before.) I get home from my morning shift at the farm, I take a shower and a nap, and then if I get anything else done in the day I'm lucky. Usually I take care of whatever I feel strongly obligated to do, like a load of laundry, but the things I want to have done for my own sake often don't get done at all.

Add to the general Mondayness that the novel is at an "I don't know what comes next" place, and the motivation to write decreases further.

One of today's obligations was to write up a regional email--an email that goes out to everyone in the Boulder region--on the occasion of NaNoWriMo Week 4 starting. These weekly emails usually contain a round-up list of events for the week, reminders about extra special events or about the ongoing book drive, and some little rah-rah pep talk about writing novels.

Since it's Week 4, I wrote about what to do when "The End" feels far too far away: Skip right to The End and write it first.

After sending the email, I let more time pass until writing today at all felt futile. It was already 11:00 PM - what could I possibly get done before the end of the day? Besides, I had no idea what to write...

"Hello, Niki. This is Your Own Advice calling. Yes, yes, I am off to visit your friends like you suggested, but it seems I've forgotten my keys and my wallet, so I had to come back for them. And while I'm here, I thought maybe I'd offer you a little help with your daily noveling task."

So I set a timer and wrote one of the end-of-book scenes while it was ticking.

As it turns out, it really is good advice. It can come home to visit any time.

And this is where I give up.

I have tried. I have tried as hard as anyone from any world can try. Since the beginning of memory, I have fulfilled every one of my assignments faithfully and to the letter. I have not questioned them. I have set my conscience aside, making every Adjustment required of me regardless of my personal feelings. If I have not obeyed every tradition to the letter, I have followed it to the utmost according to its spirit. But it is not enough. It will never be enough.

Yes, I got involved. I began to care. When reality ceased to hold my interest, I found love in a dream. And why not? Am I not assigned to the dream often and often? Don't get attached, Chender said--damn him, damn him forever--or it will impact your assignment. But it didn't--I did what I was sent to do, every time. Except now, when I can't figure out what it is. Even when I am awake, my Employer tells me nothing. And in the dream it seems all guidance is gone. This, after every attachment has been broken, every tie loosed. Look at me! Every day I practice forgetting her. Every night I ignore the loneliness. I have given myself entirely to the assignment--and still there is no guidance. You give me nothing.

So I give up. I take the lapis stones in my hand, letting them fall on my palm into different arrangements, trying out of habit to see clues in demonstrations of random chance. I clench them in my fist until the pressure against the flesh of my palm is painful.

Then, one by one, I swallow them.

(Though the advice is good, the writing is not necessarily good writing, except in that it is on the page now, which makes it by definition better than any writing that remains solely in the head.)