It’s kind of silly that while participating in NaNoWriMo I’m likely to spend more words typing about my anxieties that pop up year after year when I begin the process. Well, more words on day one. I started later night so I’m already over 0 at 59 words. 59 words that included the title and roughly 30 minutes of me deciding on my characters name and basic location. I’ve yet to establish the genre or even describe Astara (a name I pulled off a list of “100 Totally Amazing Hipster Baby Names”).
But I described her town. Not to small, not too big. Wait no, Astara’s not write… maybe sarah? Too normal. How about—Asha? Ok, Asha, that’s her name now.
I was about to describe her feeling restless, but then I looked at the clock and thought, “I’ll continue tomorrow,” closing my laptop already wondering what else I should say in my story.
Last year my story ran into road blocks. Maybe not road blocks really, I mean, can someone actually write themselves into a corner? I felt like I had but what was really going on was the sad and absolute fact that I was now bored with my own story. This sounds ridiculous, even to me but I couldn’t find any way out… I tried. I got the characters to a new location, painted a picture of a beautiful Bavarian town, introduced new characters, even had them set on a route that was so painfully obvious that it was leading them to a new plot point but I just couldn’t get them further.
I didn’t win last year, obviously. Hell, I hardly got them to even the end of the 1st act.
BUT THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT! IT HAS TO BE! AND IT WILL BE!
Well, I’m keeping things open. I’m leaving myself open to any and every idea that pops into my head and excites me.
But then I run into one little looming issue that I’ve felt pressured to care about as a woman in the arts. My art should be woman centric.
I guess that’s true, I almost feel like it is inherently true because I’m a woman and I’m making, writing, filming, editing art. However, My last few short stories haven’t really had female characters. The last two stories I’ve completed, and actually saw one of them performed live, actually had more male characters. I was proud of these stories, and ecstatic to hear one performed live but I felt like I wasn’t helping The CAUSE. I wasn’t expanding the roles of female characters or having more major women characters in any scene talking about anything amongst each other that is not about a male protagonist.
I actually never even cared (or knew) about the Bechdel Test for Women in Movies (or stores/books in general) until I started reading more about how few women there are in my industry in general, on screen and off.
But this sense of obligation… should I have it? Should I let it drive my stories? Or should I let my stories drive themselves, allowing the characters to go in the direction that feels natural, that feels right, regardless if they are serving a greater purpose to a larger theme that would otherwise not have existed in the piece?
Well see where Asha takes the story and I’ll report back as the month progresses.
Jax is a digital video and documentary producer living in the heartland. You can follow her highjinks @Jtoddles