Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo and the Body

Well, my NaNoWriMo adventure has been going... But not at the necessary rate. I only have about 3000 words down *gasp* because I have to write it by hand. My computer is down. I'm actually writing this from a computer in my kitchen. Mind you I started NaNo late and I don't think I would hold myself to the required 50, 000 words for November. So I guess the lack of computer is an excuse. It's so easy to make excuses to avoid deadlines or focus on writing like "Oh, I can't write now. I have to clean my room." -- Not that I personally jump at the opportunity to clean my room. It's really just a way to avoid insecurities. It's not laziness for most people like me who love to write.

I am taking a break from my half-eaten chicken blt sandwich. The room is silent except for the hum of the refrigerator and the ticking of the clock behind me. It's dark except for a light above the oven, little red lights on the phones and answering machine. Oh, and the dishwasher light is blinking, but I covered it with a folded towel. I hate glowing lights (I also cover my alarm clock at night) but I hate blinking glowing lights even more.

I'm sure I would have many more words down for NaNoWrimo if I had been typing. I'm a pretty fast typer and typing doesn't really fatigue my hands. Handwriting is slow and painful for me after more than a few sentences. I think it's mostly perfectly legible, but when I get really passionately involved with the writing, my handwriting goes downhill because I try to handwrite as fast as the words come to me, gripping the pen harder (partly because of the growing hand fatigue and reduction of fine motor skills), bringing my face close to the page while I rest my elbows on the table. I like that emotions can be read through handwriting. Emotions can affect everything from how hard you write on the paper to how big each letter is.

For this reason, I was thinking it would be really cool to publish my novel, which so far is comprised of diary entries and letters as I explained here, as a handwritten document, instead of a typed one. Then people could see emotions in my handwriting as well as my insecurities in the stuff I cross out. BUT these are my emotions, as a fiction writer, not those of my characters, so to accurately create emotions for my characters, I would have to tailor my handwriting and line-throughs to what I think the handwriting of my character(s) would look like.

Is that even possible? Can I change my handwriting no matter how passionate I am? No matter how much my hand hurts? I'm sure I could do these things, but not without sacrificing the work itself. You see, I'd have to concentrate on the handwriting instead of the words. Obviously that's a bad move. Word processing is best, but it's been interesting to handwrite fiction. It will be cool to see if I write my novel differently when I type it.

The most obvious change in the novel when I start typing it (after my computer is better and I've typed up the handwritten work) is that I will be less choosy about my words. I type fast and effortlessly, so each word counts less whereas when I handwrite, I make each word count because the words are strenuous to write. Even writing in straight, level lines is a challenge because the journal I'm using to write doesn't have lined pages. There are so many decisions: how much space to leave between each lines, when to try to fit one more line in at the bottom of the page. Writing helps me visual organize my thoughts -- and words also. I want my writing to look pretty. That also involves varying lengths of paragraphs and leaving indentations on the top, bottom and sides of the page. Writing becomes a physical thing, requiring more focus and discipline. I become more conscious of my body because of the pain and strain.

Also, the passion alone makes me aware of my body. I chose to stop working on my novel last night because I was feeling sick and I didn't want to stress myself. The old ticker was beating violently throughout much of yesterday, but when this happens, it usually doesn't profoundly affect my energy or strength. I like to keep busy to distract myself and also because I'm grateful I handle it so well. Fortunately, my heart is usually well behaved. It's certainly the least prominent and difficult of my symptoms, but it frustrates me that this happens despite my heart medication, that I just have to live with it.

For three or four days my balance was really not good. I was stumbling and tipping over very often. It's strenuous and unnerving to avoid falling, but it's good now. I'm seriously rethinking getting a walking cane, just for those bad balance periods. I just can't go on without support anymore when I feel like that. It's such a hard decision, though. I don't want people thinking I'm weak, delicate or less capable of doing things. A big part of it also is that I'm so stubborn and I like to do things on my own. I don't like to ask for help. On the opposite end, I don't want people thinking I use the cane for attention or to get out of things. These latter perceptions seem possible by people who don't know me well, as I will only use the cane sometimes and I can clearly walk without it. I can run.

Anyway, please send your thoughts to my stupid -- I mean ailing -- computer.


  1. If my thoughts could fix your computer they would! I love writing by hand; I actually write better but it's too slow. Imagine writing 50,000 words by hand but that is how it used to be done.

    Hand or computer, it's always easy to make excuses not to write. My NaNo is going okay but I'm not where I should be - 25,000 by next Monday. I'm only up to 18,000 ish.

    Good luck and good writing!

  2. I hope your computer gets fixed soon. I'm having fun with NaNo. I'm also handwriting it first and then transcribing. This is because I've found far too many distractions on the computer (plus I'm a super fast hand-writer).

  3. I think you should get the cane. Preventing injury due to a fall is more important than what stupid people think. :)

    Wow I can't hand write anything. It is sooooo slow and painful. When I hand write my brain is always going so much faster that I actually have to skip stuff so I get the important ideas written down before I forget them! I hope you computer is fixed soon if anything just to spare your poor aching hands. Mine are cramping just thinking of hand writing that much. And what a pain to count the words.

  4. Ash, have you ever thought about cross-country ski poles to help your balance? I read an article about them as fitness tools recently in either Chatelaine or Canadian Living and I think you would really benefit from them. Plus, cross-country ski poles are WAY more badass than a cane.

  5. L'Aussie - Ha thanks for showing love to my computer. I know! I've thought about writing big novels by hand. And it must have been so unnerving not having another copy, especially with all of those candles and fireplaces around... Yes, I agree. It's so easy to make excuses. Good work on your word count and good luck to you too!

    Lynda - Thanks. We thought we had a fix, but no such luck! Can you teach me to handwrite fast?

    Mike - Welcome to my blog and thanks!

    Achieve - Thanks for your input. Yes, handwriting gets painful. Aaaah!

    Laura - No, I haven't thought of that! Thanks for the suggestion. I'll ask my physiotherapist for advice. Ha ha, well you know how much like to be "bad ass."

  6. thnaks for commenting on my blog

    Nanowrimo is kinda tough on the back because we tend to hunch over our computers. But I get up every half hour and go for a short walk.

    Good luck and yes you're right- Nanowrimo is a challenge to turn off the inner editor.