For the first time in 5 years, I am not participating in National Novel Writing Month. I’m a bit sad about not participating in the silly/chaotic/exhilarating rush to write 50,000 words in a month. Since 2017 I have, on average, written two books a year, with one of those books being my NaNoWriMo project.
In the past two years, I have added a novella to that count, and that doesn’t take into account blog posts, short stories, and all the other words I usually manage to come up with over the year. Staying productive while the world burned was an excellent way to deal with my rising anger and anxiety. As a creative, I strive to provide respite in my books. My goal is to offer readers a safe place to enjoy a world where you know no matter what happens in the story; my characters will get to have their happy endings.
But this year, I have struggled to write. I am currently two-thirds of the way through completing the third book in my new series, and I’ve lost the thread of my story. It’s not the first time this has happened.
I’m not a strict outliner, preferring to create a scaffold of scenes for my characters and then start writing, trusting my process, and chasing story ideas and words like a child running after fireflies.
If you’ve never caught fireflies or lightning bugs as some call them, it’s tricky. They only start their display at dusk, and it only lasts for a short time. You need to wait until they flash their soft yellow-green glow, run to that spot, and then gently, ever so gently cup them in your hands.
If you’re patient, they will light up again while you hold them, a delightful bit of magic. That is the closest thing I can relate to how I create stories. And this year, I’ve had a tough time following the fireflies of ideas that generally fill my head.
This year, there was no in-person time with my extended family, no time with sister friends, and no time to fill the well at my favorite conferences and writer events. Because no matter how wonderful it is to see folks over Zoom, it is not the same as warm hugs and laughter and staying up way past bedtime to tell silly stories and laugh until our stomachs hurt.
I have no doubts I will finish this book. I always do. And it’s not the first time I have had to stop and reassess a story direction. I have the tools to figure out where the story needs to go. But this year, I’m going to give myself a little bit of extra time to chase the fireflies and enjoy the magic along the way.
Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. Her novel Double Six won the 2020 GCLS Goldie for Erotica. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering on her front porch and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot. She blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. Sign Up for her email list and receive a free erotic short story at www.brendalmurphy.com
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