Dispatch from the Trenches: Self-Inflicted Complications (10.30.16)

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Dispatch from the Trenches / NaNoWriMo / Quote


All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ca change
Plus c’est la meme chose
~ Rush ~


In my last dispatch, I mentioned I was immersed in apartment hunting. It would seem that the issue has been addressed, although i won’t be moving until the beginning of December. Given the light sparsity of my possessions, however, the moving thang is not an onerous undertaking.

So it would appear I am returning Bellingham, WA.  I lived there from 1991 to 1995 while attending Western Washington University, first as a graduate student in Education working on my teacher’s certification, and then as undergrad working on my creative writing degree. All I basically had to do was my student teaching stint to get the Master’s, but at the last moment I realized (rightfully) the last thing I should be trying to do is to teach secondary education. This had a lot to do with the fact that my Bipolar and Anxiety Disorders (neither diagnosed at the time) were coming into full bloom for the first time.

There are both good and bad ghosts in these old stomping grounds. And returning to a place after two decades makes one realize that although change is the only constant is life, the more things change the more they stay the same.

So, anyhow, November appears to be a kind of benign limbo for me. Not much on plate. Time enough to write and read.

But why keep things simple when you can complicate them?

A few days ago I came across Al’s post “Haiku Shift” over at A Certain Point of View in which he mentions he will be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Joining in on NaNoWriMo is translated as the commitment to write at least 50,000 words towards a novel during the month of November, or nearly 1,700 words a day.

The notion of writing a novel has been lurking somewhere in my brain since I was about the time I was seven years old. Yet I can say I haven’t even come close to writing one. I was one of those writers who came across Raymond Carver, embraced the short story form, and didn’t really look back for the most part.

When I started my studies in creative writing, I went down the path of poetry and the novel became even a most distant likelihood. Writing a novel became as much a reality for me as writing and directing my own film. After graduation, work, life and those pesky mood disorders took over, sending creative writing to the back burner for quite some time.

Fast forward to the present moment. For a couple of days the pondering about a potential novel bounced around. I came across the splendid post by K.L. over at A Thousand Finds in “The Calendar” regarding one’s attitude towards the project. I came to the conclusion I could produce the 1,700 words a day while at the same time continuing with my poetry and photography, as well as keeping up with other people’s blogs.

The “what’s it about” I will save for another time. For the moment I will just say that the only way I imagined hitting that 1,700 mark on daily basis for thirty days was if I for all intents and purposes wrote in a stream of consciousness, not looking back, allowing for skips and zig-zags in the narrative arc. When it goes off the rails…just keep plugging forward.

I will start with little organized in way of the basics: plot, characters, etc. From my current vantage point, the whole endeavor appears to be more like mesh of a flash fiction collage and improv theater than anything else. [On a side note: my personal belief is a great exercise for any writer is taking some form of improv theater class.] If nothing else, I assume there will be plenty of spindrift that can be used as fodder for other creative writings.

In the end, I suppose, when the oracles are telling you to take the plunge, you just go ahead and plunge.

Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera sera
~ Pink Martini ~


  1. Stream of consciousness sounds like a great plan, especially for a poet /photographer – you could arrive a quite an amazing place. Good luck!


  2. Good luck with the challenge… my aims are twofold – 1) park my inner editor for a month, and try and write in a more stream of consciousness style, just to get the words out onto the page – serious first draft territory; 2) write to a consistent schedule every day, ignoring all other distractions (blog and internet…). If I achieve and sustain these two, that will be my measure of success, not the arbitrary 50,000 words.

    It’s going to be… interesting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

        • even though i “had the time” last year, doing this kind of thing in the manner it implies just didn’t jive with my frame of mind at the time (which was in a good space in general). sometimes the planets align, sometimes they don’t…neither is necessarily good nor bad, it just is. what works works. and so it goes. 😉

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  3. I thought Karen’s post was great, too! I think it will be a piece of cake for you. You’re so imaginative. I did it in 2013. Started it with just an outline, put my head down and just wrote. 30 days later I had 90,000 words and a completed manuscript. And I am NOT imaginative. It only worked because of that outline for me. If I can do it ANYONE can! (Now if someone could just show me how to edit the sucker!!! o_O )

    Liked by 1 person

    • editing (one’s own work or somebody else’s) is an art in and of itself, one i have never excelled at…too much attention to detail…i’m a kind of a big picture sort. it takes all kinds to make the world go around. you should think about bringing that manuscript back to the surface. and i’ve read your writings to know you are very imaginative – with an authentic voice, the most difficult part in my opinion. Some time back i had the insight that some of favorite forms of creative writing (or of any art form) were film reviews…i couldn’t wait for Thursday went the NY Times would have five or so film reviews prior to the weekend…often more insightful and entertaining than the films themselves. imaginative writing can be anywhere and approach an infinite number of angles on what we experience outside of art.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I read ‘…November appears to be a kind of benign limbo for me. Not much on plate. Time enough to write and read…’ I thought – well you could do NaNoWriMo. I’ll be doing it to, and I like your trudging on in stream of cosciousness…best of luck. I doubt I’ll have time to be social there, but if you want to look me up, im 10000hoursleft.

    On anothet note – did you get my message – sent using the form on your contact page…no probs if it’s just that you haven’t had a chance to reply, but thought I’d ask incase it didn’t get through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks…yeah, i don’t see myself being social too much over there, seeing i’ll still be around here at WP…but i’ll look you up all the same 🙂 the messages get sent to to tab on my gmail i keep forgetting to check so i will go check it out now…

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          • And we’re off. 572 words so far. Hoping the cringing goes away soon – must keep reminding myself that I’ll have to get all the crap out of the way to some gems here and there haha.

            Liked by 1 person

            • the name of the game is “crank it out” – or so it seems. 🙂 sounds like you’re off and running…still got a little more than three more hours to stand here at the starting line…stretching, limbering up. 😉

              Liked by 1 person

              • At 1182 words now – yeah, forget quality- all about the numbers. Maybe read a dictionary for next few hours?? Or sleep on it and wake up to write your dream in the most intricate detail haha. I’ll hand the baton over for your Nov 1st 😊

                Liked by 1 person

              • got to 2351 now. i had enough fragments fluttering around i was able to riff off of those. i dread the doldrums that await once i run out of fragments. but it’s all good. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

              • Nice effort! I clocked in at 1886 by ed of day 1. Day 2 is 1111 so far…about to start my afternoon session. Trying not to think about how horrible it will be to read over all these words. Something tells me you won’t run out of riff material…

                Liked by 1 person

              • was thinking about reading over the material early today. getting bored with my own material is one of the anxieties that pester me. part of the blessing of flash fiction. get in, get out. will my attention span be my curse. time will tell. 🙂 good luck in the afternoon session.

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              • OMG boredom of my own writing is a problem for me too. Afternoon went well, I’m now on morning shift of day 3 and i think I’ve loosened up a little. No longer aiming for a consistent ‘voice’ and also trying to approach each scene like a flash fiction piece (i have structure summarised from turning point to step, sequence and in early parts, scenes too- helpful but also stifling). Gluing it all together seamlessly can wait…maybe that approach will help you too? Create a series of connected flash fiction stories, loosely interpreting what connects one to the other. Good luck on day 2 😊

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              • our approaches are very similar… finding the voice can wait i believe we all have multiple authentic voices in us, most we don’t have a clue about until we look back at what we have completed. The gluing it together later is the way to go for me…In the film “Trumbo” about the screen writer by that name shows him literally taking strips of the script and moving them into sequence (sometimes while sitting in the tub). And, yes, seeing each scene, or part of a scene even, as a flash fiction piece is very helpful not only in pushing the writing into places it might otherwise not go if viewed as just a part of a larger whole, but also, i feel, pushing the writing to focus on tension, conflict, what will keep the attention of the reader without having to explicitly belabor that notion in the mind while in the process of writing.

                Made it so far to 3566, so i can add a little bit here and there for the rest of the day without stressing about word count, so i’m happy on day 2. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

              • Good work on day 2. True what you say about voices. I feel much free-er writing short pieces on my blog and i think it’s because I’ve had the nanowrimo story in my head and working on its structure for so long now that it is hard to see it with freshness, but i shall plod on. Beauty of it all so far is realising how much i can write daily without changing anything in my day.

                Liked by 1 person

              • it’s an interesting film if only for the historical background of the blacklisting in Hollywood during the US Congress’ Communist hunt.


  5. My work consists of many, many fragments. I ‘m not sure why I ever started trying to do novels but now that I am committed, I want to finish them! Fragments. that’s good. I hope you enjoy the ride this month. I look forward to seeing what you think of the process. I love and hate it both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • a love/hate relationship it is, indeed….the 3 am voice in the head pondering the commitment and asking “what were you thinking?”…but would we have it any other way…and as order comes from chaos, so too can a novel come from fragments…i would at least like to think so.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Happy Healthy Kiwi says

    Ah I forgot to do this challenge. Looking forward to catching up with your posts and seeing how you went (I’m very behind with my reading)

    Liked by 1 person

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