love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
Last week I was sitting down trying to describe my blog’s vision. I’ve written about everything from the first time I injected thawed sperm inside me to my struggles with religion to implied but not quite spoken relationship struggles. And here I find myself on Tuesdays sharing a chapter of the novel I’m writing. How does that fit in?
If you ask the Universe a question, you’ll get answers. I’ve realized writing Pieces of Her is a part of my journey towards liberation and my desire to reconcile all aspects of myself into a fully integrated, authentic Self. This is what I’ve learned through writing this book.
1- I don’t use many of the structures that I taught my students to use in my other life as a writing teacher. I don’t outline. I don’t plan out my book. I only superficially proofread, and rarely edit in it true meaning of reflecting on your writing. Believe it or not, most of this writing is the result of listening to the characters. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to write about and would write out a chunk of chapters at a time, not having an idea of what was going to happen next. Somewhere around Chapter 15 or so, I finally figured out what was going to happen for the rest of the story. Now I will readily admit that these chapters are still drafts. I’ve already found some minor inconsistencies, dropped story lines, and I fully plan to rectify those and expand for the print/e-book version. I am way too critical of a reader to be a sloppy writer. Those of you that no me outside of this blog know that I will point out every single element of bad writing in movies, lyrics, books, web series. I couldn’t call myself a writer if I was careless.
2- Character development is my very favorite part of writing. Before I was confident in writing fiction (more on that in the next post), I would write character sketches. I have countless files on my laptop and in notebooks that are detailed descriptions and hybrids of people I’ve met or imagined in my head. Much of the plot of Pieces of Her is driven by my imagination of what would people like this (like me..) do given certain scenarios. Letting my mind wander and ponder WWND (What Would Naima Do) helps me to consider truths about myself I may not be ready to admit. It helps me explore my highly sensual/sexual side. It helps me to understand the totality of who people are, not just the one or two dimensions we allow them to be in our minds.
3- This is my first time writing fiction. For real. I never thought I could do it because I had a hard time following a lot of the writing rules that I would teach my students. I knew what a good story arc was, but I couldn’t pre-think or plan a trajectory from the beginning and would give up. I also used to suck at dialogue; I would have these Faulkner-esque pages upon pages of nothing but description and no dialogue. So I gave up until I shared with Enigma the first five chapters that I wrote SIX YEARS ago for NaNoWriMo. She encouraged me to keep going. And this is what it’s led to.
4- I’m a highly sensual person. I visualize scenes in my mind, rewind them, play them in slow motion, turn the camera on different angles, pan out, zoom out, and try to put as much of that as possible in my writing. I was never conscious of how much I observed and now I’m hyper sensitive to it. I am keenly aware of sounds, colors, smells, facial expressions, every minutiae of a scene. I now crave silence, beauty, nature, and order as a result of writing Pieces of Her.
5- I truly and passionately love writing. So much so that I can see myself doing this professionally for the rest of my life. I never considered myself as a writer. Previously It was just something I did; I’ve been journaling to process my thoughts since I was 12 and blogging my reflections on life since 2005. I was one of those crazy people who enjoyed writing in grad school and would choose many of my undergrad classes based on whether final papers were assigned in lieu of exams. Yeah, weird. But so me.
So what happens next? My goal is to take Pieces of Her to 40 chapters, edit it by expanding sections, combining others, and then self-publishing before the year is out. I need this to be authentically me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts—What surprises you? What did you already know? What else about my writing process are you curious about? Spill it below!