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#31DaysofO Recap

January 13, 2015


So I did it. I completed my self imposed challenge #31DaysofO, to work on my sci-fi epic poem everyday for the month of December. And…I only missed two days, which is good by Whitney standards. One day I was stupid sick, and the other I was caught up in a political rally and shortly after fell asleep. Even Christmas day I wrote. Family didn’t like too much.

#31DaysofO_recapI’m so weary about writing about…writing. It feel self-indulgent at times, or super redundant at others. But journalling and documenting my process is exciting and productive and as much a part of the work as the writing itself. For “O”, I had sparkling moments of clarity, when I wrote like a beast, carving out stanzas like crazy. Of the #31DaysofO, this probably happened 5 times max. Most of the time, if I’m truthful, was painful and challenging. I was unfocused many evenings. The first 5 days was like homework but I did it.


Then something happened by my midway point (or my quarter mid-way point), I started reading. Reading sci-fi, reading poetry, reading fiction, reading memoirs. And then I played Russian Roulette with books in search of words that resonate with the narrative, I started asking my characters, “What are you most afraid of? Who do you want dead? What do you know in your heart to be true? Who stole your dream from you? How close are you to a mental breakdown?”

I got so wrapped up in making sure I was sci-fi enough. After all, I love science fiction, but I’m a long time reader, first time writer. Genre writing was discouraged in university, stigmatized even, and I was so excited to break away from realism and have fun imagining. But I got freaked out. I don’t know that much about science, or space travel, or the troupes of science fiction, or the astronomy.


It tripped me up, but my friend told me it’s all fiction anyway right? I shouldn’t feel less-than just because its unfamiliar territory. I don’t have to be an expert at space travel to have a character who is an expert at space travel. After I got over that mini-panic moment, the process was clearer. New characters were developing. Settings were solidifying. Things were coming together.


Other anxieties that came up (and will probably continue) are ones about sharing. I get hella paranoid about sharing my work, especially online. We all know the Matrix was written by a black woman so why on earth would I leak, even snippets of “O” online? Well for one thing, I’ve been so blessed to get tonnes of feedback, from individual writings and on the project as a whole. When I share (some) ideas and concepts with other creative minds, it forces me to tell my story in a way that isn’t in my head. I know what I want things to look like, but have I contextualized things for others to see it too? Nine times out of ten I didn’t. Compounded with the fact that I’m fabricating a foreign reality, clarity is key. Plus, people were genuinely excited to hear about my process. Trusted folks asked inquisitive questions forcing myself to reexamine my decisions in a healthy way like, “But why now?” which naturally propels the narrative forward.


So after a month of committment to this thing to the maximum degree, I can’t kill the momentum now. Imma ride out this #31DaysofO until January, feeding off of December’s vibe and fleshing out concepts that I now have the calm to address. Wish me luck!


Follow the #31DaysofO for the ALL the details of the writing challenge: snippets, stanzas, frustrations, inspirations, illustrations and more! Or follow me on Twitter @WhitneyFrench1 as the journey continues…

Over and out

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