Brilliance and Awfulness

Ugh, this is terrible. Just atrocious.

No…wait just a minute, wait just a…Yes! This is awesome! Pure perfection! Woo hoo!

No…no, it’s terrible again. Really, really terrible. Oh, man. What’s that stench? Ugh.

This is my typical experience during November. Some days I’m lucky, and it’s a reasonably equal mix of highs and lows. Rarely, when I’m really lucky, I’m soaring on inspired writing and amazing plotlines. Most days, however, I’m down in the trenches, trudging through the dreary doldrums of limp, lifeless writing.

Anyone that writes creatively has certainly experienced these peaks and valleys. I think it’s probably more pronounced during NaNo because of the breakneck pace. Getting 50k completed in 30 days means you don’t have an opportunity to pause and reevaluate your story and characters, or to think three moves ahead and plan out every step, every consequence, every eventuality. All you can do is keep moving. And that often means falling off the cliff of genius into the morass of mediocrity.

Sometimes that’s a good thing. It forces you to plough through the Troughs of Terribleness at full speed, whether you want to or not. Inevitably, you come out the other side. You may have left a swath of completely unusable words, drivel of the highest order, but NaNo forces you past that moment to climb back up the slope towards better and better words, until you reach that pinnacle of, “Eureka! These words are absolute genius!”

NaNo teaches you that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, if you persevere long enough. And that light is pretty darn sweet.

Of course, the sweetness and light part doesn’t last very long. But to me, those peaks, despite their rare, ephemeral quality, make the valleys worth it.

Totally worth it.


P.S. I’m learning, over time, how to make the valleys a little less deep, and a bit less long. I do so by violating one of the major tenets of NaNoWriMo: I go back to the lowest of my valleys and with brute force I jack them up out of the murky darkness and back up into the sunshine via a magical little tool I like to call “editing.” It’s a big no-no during November. I deserve a wrist slap for my impertinence. I’ll talk more about this next time.

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