Tonight I’m at the Municipal Liaisons’ write-in at Your Mom’s Basement in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. It’s dark and windy outside, with the neon of the strip mall showing in the darkness across the street. Earlier we had lowering grey skies over foliage gone to rust-and-gold, with dry leaves blowing in the street.
Dry enough to whisper, like ghosts.
The darker and colder it gets, the closer I move to the storytelling magic. I’m recovering from three months of illness that left me bone-tired and feeling like a failure because I hadn’t gotten done any of the things on the List of Things to Do. My Work in Progress has dragged along at something less than professional speed.
Tonight I managed 1200 words or so, which made me feel as if I’d come back to life. I know I’m feeling depressed rather than merely sluggish if I walk three miles and still feel crummy. I know that I’m in a real writing slump if I don’t feel like a human after writing a couple of thousand words.
For the last few months, I haven’t managed even a thousand a day. I’ve been reading other people’s novels and short stories. That’s sharpened my editorial eye for the characteristic tics and failings of my own first-draft prose; at the same time, I have to remind myself that I can’t see anybody else’s first draft but my own (well, and the handful of NaNo buddies with whom I exchange raw manuscripts).
The more I write, though, the more capable I feel as a writer.
So tonight, another bout of fiction writing before I bid a fond farewell to these precincts and head home.