As hundreds of writers are heaving their way through NaNoWri 2014, I am feeling overwhelmingly at peace with a short(ish) story I just finished. Awhile back, I was trudging through a lot of personal chaos. In many respects, I still am. In 20 days I will be finished with college and embarking on a very new path of adventure, and let me just say, it is an adventure that I definitely didn’t know about 6 months ago.
The only thing I know with certainty is that life is constantly changing and morphing into things that no amount of foresight could imagine.
A few months ago I wrote a post about how I had an almost suffocating desire to tell a story about what had happened within the past few months of my life. It was one of those experiences that felt like everything came to a screeching halt. Things felt heavy and haggard. Things felt surreal. I was learning an important life lesson, and I didn’t have anything to turn to for a point of reference. I needed to write. Badly. But, like I mentioned in that post, it wasn’t just my story to tell.
For the past few months I have been pouring my heart into that story. It worked out that I could write the story for my senior thesis to graduate, as well as having it workshopped by classmates and professors. I have never purged in such a creative way before, and it was the most freeing thing I have ever done.
Don’t get me wrong, certain parts were incredibly painful. Beginning was difficult, as always. Certain parts of the story I wrote with tears pouring down my face. It was hard balancing fiction and fact, but I got through it. There came a point when the story didn’t seem important anymore. M and I both had some distance from it, and we were finally starting to move past that chapter in our lives; if it hadn’t been for my thesis, I probably would have dropped the story entirely. It became something I didn’t want to harp on anymore. There were even times when I needed M’s help, but I didn’t want him to think back on such stomach-acid inducing times.
Yet, with each discussion for the story, I felt like he was able to get a part of himself out, and I was able to create characters that not only helped readers understand, but helped me understand too. Writing that story, no matter how fictionalized it became, helped me find the happy ending we were looking for.
I feel giddy and light as I reflect on the feedback I got from classmates and professors, from unbiased readers. This story was a weird culmination of me growing as a writer and me growing as a person. I found my voice, and I found an ending to our story I think we can be happy with. We can put this chapter on a shelf fondly, without so much bitterness that it would have brought had we never found the words to express it.
“Becoming Bravo” may always sit in a corner of my university’s library archives. It may always be 34 pages stuffed in a box with other keepsakes. Or maybe I’ll publish it in some different form someday. But I think it will always be a piece of us that we didn’t let rot inside us. We let it flower into something that had a purpose outside of ourselves…. and that felt really really good.
So to you writers trudging through your NaNo deadlines, don’t give up. It can turn into something unimaginable, or if nothing else, into something that stretches you beyond yourself.
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