November 17, 2014

Why I'm abandoning my NaNoWriMo story prematurely . . .

**FYI: This is a religious post.  The choices I describe in the essay are my own experiences.  Please don't think I'm judging you if you've made different choices.  This is really about me so please don't think I'm preaching to you!  If you relate, great.  If not, no worries!  We're all different and that's awesome.  You are awesome.**

I've lived a strange life for the past 8 years.  We've had financial difficulties (*cough* student loans *cough*) and have had to live with my parents all this time.  I've had several setbacks with my health.  I've been diagnosed with Hashimoto's, endometriosis, celiac disease, interstitial cystitis,  vulvadynia.  I also have nerve damage from four surgeries I had within a 13 month period.  Setbacks aside, we have been blessed with the awesomest boy ever just over 7 years ago!  I also started BiblioBags almost 5 years ago and I've made close to 200 purses.  Making purses still brings me such joy and peace.

My writing predates all of these happenings.  I've been writing my whole life and I decided to be a screenwriter when I was 17.  I was a quarterfinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting competition a few years ago and I'm still proud of that.  However, I haven't made the quarterfinals any time since.  It's been very frustrating.  I always feel that I should've "made it" by now.  That I should have something to show for my education and hard work.

I recently decided to focus the last few months of this year on my Etsy shop and to leave my script alone for awhile.  When November came around, my friend Rochelle started NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I thought it might be a great way to get back into the habit of writing every day, even if I wasn't working on my "main" screenplay.

I had another idea for a horror comedy that had been in my head for a little bit.  I began working and was making good progress.  However, I still felt scattered and confused about my life.  Should I be writing more?  Focusing on Etsy?  I need to rest more than healthy people my age but do I really need to nap as much as I do?  How are we ever going to move out of my parents' house anyway?

I started to pray every day about these questions.  I felt I was missing something.  I prayed very hard to see what that something was.

A few nights ago, I decided to tell my husband John about my story.  He nodded and chuckled at the right moments.  A couple of hours later, I could tell something was weighing on him.  John is very laid back and quiet but I could tell from his body language and the look on his face that something was wrong.  He looked to me and said, "Autumn, I just don't know about that story.  I'm just afraid that it could be a tad sacrilegious.  I don't know."

I could see he was really nervous about telling me.  Suddenly I realized that this was an answer to my prayers.  The story.  The story was not right.  I knew in my heart that I needed to stop writing it.  At first I resisted.  I'm an adult.  I can handle this.  There is nothing bad about this.  I'll make sure it's not too sacrilegious.  I'm not hurting anyone.  

I told John thanks and that I'd think about it.  He was so humble about it that I felt I should at least hear him out.  As time passed, it became clear.  The burden, the confusion I felt, had come in part from that story and my focus on it.  I wanted that burden gone.  I deleted my story and felt so much better.  I knew I did the right thing and I didn't even miss the story after it was gone despite the work I had put into it.

After I made that choice, other ideas came into my mind about other things that were holding me back.  One thought was to stop watching one of my favorite shows.  I admit, I had been ignoring that feeling for a week or so.  I prayed for help on that one.  TV shows and movies are my weaknesses.  I want to watch them because I want to learn more about my "craft" from them.  I want to know what the "industry" likes and what everyone is talking about.

Then a thought hit me.  If I truly want to be original and to stand out, why watch everything Hollywood is already putting out?  Aren't the majority of most movies just "reboots" of older, better movies?  If I really want to be original and to have my voice heard, I should stick to who I am.  I'm reminded of this quote:

And I'm a Mormon.

Does that mean I'm only going to watch PG movies and adapt "Pioneers in Petticoats" into a feature length film?  HECK. NO.  But I am going to be more selective in my entertainment choices and my writing subjects.

I believe my talents and interests came from Heavenly Father.  Who better than He to help me meet my potential?  If certain stories, TV shows or movies impair my vision or communication with the Spirit, how can I reach my goals?

In the meantime, I'll still be doing NaNoWriMo but I'm going to be writing essays about different experiences in my life.  They pretty much all will entail something completely humiliating I said or did that I can laugh at now.  Maybe I'll find a screenplay in there.  Who knows?  All I know is that I feel so much better already about the choices I'm making.  I know that if I pray and try hard to keep the commandments that good things will happen.

Oh and if you were wondering, I'm totally using this post towards my NaNoWriMo word count.  ;)

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