2006 was an incredibly shitty year.
In August, on our 10th anniversary, my partner with whom I owned a house broke up with me. In the span of hours, I went from comfortable, fairly happy and secure, to devastated. And beyond the personal toll of feeling unlovable and worthless, I had a cascade of other factors to occupy me.
We would have to sell the house. Fear. Anxiety.
I would, de facto, be homeless. Fear. Anxiety.
My mother, who rented the basement, would have to move. Guilt. Fear. Anxiety.
I would have to explain this to my children. More guilt. More fear. More anxiety.
And that was just the things that occurred to me right off the bat. More things would have to be dealt with, more issues. More drama too; it turned out that soon-to-be-Ex had been having an affair with one of my friends.
I cried a lot in August. September too.
By October, though, I was starting to look forward to NaNoWriMo. Here was something that had nothing to do with the personal things I was dealing with. I could write anything, do anything, in my novel. Friends (obviously not the cheater one) suggested I do a revenge novel. After all, no one was going to read it, they argued, so I could get out all my anger and frustration that way. And I thought about it. Ninety percent of the plot appeared to me almost as a whole, with the setting, characters, everything I’d need.
But I couldn’t do it. For one thing, I was feeling numb at this point, and I clung to that numbness. I had people relying on me, which meant I couldn’t afford to let my emotions loose again. For another, I’ve never been keen on letting my darker side out, even anonymously. My dark side isn’t a fun Goth kid, as some people seem to view their darkside. Mine is mean, and cruel. I didn’t want to let it off it’s leash, not even for a fantasy if I could help it.
So I decided to write fluff. The fluffiest thing I could imagine. Something I wouldn’t have to read inside and pour meaning for.
Which was why I wrote a modern romance novel. I figured, if thousands of other people can do it, why not me? And the plot of a standard romance novel is simple; A meets B, A loses B, A and B struggle, A and B get together happily ever after. I wouldn’t have to think, just blather.
Instead, I wrote 50,000 words of the most boring crap imaginable. I struggled mightily to get it all written out, and I shamelessly used every trick in the book to pour words onto the screen. Long lunch scenes. Full names every time. Overly detailed sex scenes (including the thread count and colour of the sheets.)
When I hit 50k, I wrote something along the lines of ‘They all figured it out. The End’, and closed the file. I am probably more embarrassed by this nano novel than any other I’ve ever written; not because it’s a romance, but because I was so incredibly bad at it. An entire novel where the whole point is the emotional relationship between the main characters? Written while I was still grieving the end of my own relationship? It was just plain awful, and I have no writerly talent for wallowing in pathos. Ugh.
The only real satisfaction was in knowing that despite the stress, and the chaos of trying to rebuild my life, I was still able to create something. Maybe it was garbage, but I’d had the ability and will to do it. Knowing I could still write, actually put words together rather than curling up into a ball and letting myself slide down into nothingness was very important to me.