This has been another mild winter, but last week we had a few blasts of snow, so I went to the cottages and tramped around in my Christmas snowshoes. Later I visited with a few horses at Horse Amour (where C rides), and this week have started going through my utterly overwhelming and unorganized photo library. I’m in the depths of a years-long writer’s block, so pictures from my wonderful phone camera are all I’ve got these days. Enjoy!
Boogie Pants isn’t burning me out because I don’t post enough for that to even happen. That would be a good problem, maybe.
Nope, everybody else’s blogs are burning me out. There really are too many and they tend to run into each other theme-wise. They have me wondering why I even keep this fellow Boogie Pants alive. I just read a blog post on rebranding and monetization and sponsors and GOOD GRIEF THAT ALL SOUNDS LIKE A NIGHTMARE. What do bloggers really want? Fame? Readers? An income? How many more people can write about healthy cooking, fit pregnancy, DIY and parenting without burning us all out?
Why even keep Boogie Pants alive? It’s aimless and meandering and I hardly ever post anything that I really like.
For example, I wrote a draft yesterday about my nightmare drive during yesterday’s snow event and how my Nokian studded tires kicked ass. I wrote how I faced my fear of driving on untreated snowy mountain roads in the dark while it’s still snowing because I had no choice but to pick the girls up from school and get us all home. Then, when I proofread the post, all I could think was, well, shit, that’s boring. Vermonters do this every day. They drive in the mountains in the dark in the snow because they need to get their kids and they do not make a deal of it.
Why should I make a deal of it, then? I had no answer, so didn’t post because then it all seemed silly and trivial and quite shallow. It would be nice to write material that is somewhat more substantial than how much I love my studded snow tires.
But now, as write THIS post, I’m thinking, well, driving in snow like that was new to me. With some thought, that bit alone could be worth writing about, so for now I’ll leave my snow driving draft where it is and think about putting it up later. Seriously, though, why do bloggers blog and as long as I’m asking, why is the word “blog” even a word?
When we lived in Maryland years ago, every winter, right after Christmas, melancholy slipped into our house unannounced and definitely uninvited. It draped itself over me, an annoying, itchy shawl. Once there, gloom dug in like a briar, refusing to leave until months later when the first crocus peeked through the grass. I didn’t understand why I had these blues; all I knew for sure was that as soon as spring came, this seasonal cloud of melancholy lifted and stayed away until the next winter.
I felt really victim-y and off-track during those first grey winters. Feeling so glum ticked me off and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. This book, Winter Blues, found its way to me. I didn’t even get past the introduction when it all suddenly made sense. My unofficial but spot-on self diagnosis? Seasonal Affective Disorder. I bought myself a light box, booked a Christmas trip to Florida instead of New England, and did my best to take control of those winter blues. This investment seemed to do the trick for the remainder of our time in Maryland. I quickly saw results from the lightbox; after a few weeks of intense exposure, everything lifted just a bit and winter felt more manageable.
When we moved to Vermont for the first time, in 2001, I was worried that with the long winters, the Green Mountain State would not bode well for my SAD. The surprising thing is that this didn’t happen. In Vermont, once the snow comes, it stays. The ground is light and white and people get out and move in the world because they have to. We bundled up and did stuff outside and made ourselves embrace winter. We didn’t hibernate, we didn’t let the hazardous weather scare us or get us down, and as a result, I found that winters in Vermont were indeed much easier than winters in Maryland. And now, we’re back in Vermont for a second time, after ten years in southern Ohio, where the weather is similar to Maryland, and I’m ready for it.
Today the weather is rotten. It snowed a little bit last night, but now we’ve got sleet and are under a winter weather advisory. We live at the end of a long dirt driveway off a long dirt road, but we have to get out and go and drive and do stuff every day. I can’t afford to be nervous about it. I’ve got four studded Hakks, a cord of firewood, and my lightbox set permanently to ON.
Victim = out, Heroine = in.
Nanowrimo 2013 did not get done! I didn’t finish this year. I quit just before Thanksgiving, and for no reason other than I was boring myself silly. Time and solitude were on my side more than ever before, with both girls in school and days completely to myself, yet it felt impossible to escape my tired old ideas, characters and plotlines. This nano-apathy started a couple years ago when I realized that every novel I’d written repeated the same theme with the same characters in rotating locations They always had the same problems, same motivations, same adventures, same quirks. Blah, you know?
Last December (2012), I accidentally saved a short article I had written over my completed nano novel and I lost the whole 50K in a second…with a single, thoughtless click. It was definitely startling. I expected to be devastated, but I wasn’t, and to lose that body of work was strangely liberating. To read about it, click here.
What I didn’t like about my novel this year is that even though I didn’t want to write about the same stuff of the past ten years, the same stuff kept trying to be written, and from my vantage point, this stuff was a snore. So, last week, when I hit the 30K point just before our company came for Thanksgiving, I faced a choice.
Choice #1: I could hunker down, remove myself from much of Thanksgiving, write the last 20K words and cross the finish line in time. I type really fast and I’m great at generating lots of bullshit very quickly. I could get it done!
Choice #2: I could cook, hang out with family that we don’t get see as often as we’d like, enjoy our new house in Vermont, actually READ, learn how to play (and love) Chinese checkers, make fires in our enormous fireplace, and go with the flow. I could quit!
Should I break my streak when I still had the chance to win it? Why not, you know? It really didn’t take long for me to decide to stroll through that door marked “STOP WRITING.” I closed the document, shut the laptop, poured myself a glass of wine, and relaxed.
I really DO want to write a novel, just not the kind I’ve written that has helped me win nano for so long. It’s time for me to get out of the nanowrimo rut that I’ve gotten myself into. Maybe I’m done with nanowrimo for good, or I might simply need a break. Either way, December is here and I have lots of novels I want to READ and lots of old -fashioned journal writing I need to catch up on.
We’ll go from there.
This morning I wrote a beginning. For years I’ve wanted to explore my college friendships, the ones that began the first day of freshman orientation in 1984 and continue through today. I started with a scene from freshman orientation at Wooster, with the girls in my campus house sitting in circle being told by our RA that we were now WOMEN and should no longer call ourselves or each other GIRLS. The term GIRLS, as of that day, no longer applied, we were told, and I remember thinking it very silly because if there ever was a day I felt like a little girl, it was that first day of my life living away from home. I wrote about my friend, Heather, whose birthday it was, and who shared birthday cake or cupcakes or some kind of treat with a houseful of potential friends. I wrote how Heather came to college with a collection of brand new monogrammed wooden hangers. As I always do with nanowrimo, the story becomes autobiographical, at least in the desire, feelings and motivations of my my main character. It’s my go-to way of generating lots of words in a very short time, but every year I sincerely want to make what I write a little deeper and more developed. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, my prologue starts with a gang of young women (old girls?) meeting on the first day of college. After that, I’m really not sure, but at least it’s a start, and I desperately needed to start.