thi.nguyen

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I WON!

moth winner

So I’ve been telling stories around town (check out my progress and others shows I’ve done) and a popular storytelling show I go to is The Moth. It’s an open mic where you have to tell a 5 minute true story on theme.  There’s judges that score each storyteller. The person with the highest score goes to the Grand Slam where 10 winners compete, telling a new 5 minute story on a new theme.

If you want to tell a story, you put your name in the bag and they pull out 10 names for the night. The theme of the night was deadlines. Not only was I called up, (I was the 6th storyteller, usually the 1st storyteller gets judged the hardest because judges have to calibrate their scoring), my story barely made the time constraint, but I also won the night! Whoo! I told a story about getting tickets to a music festival. It was a stressful time and I relived it as I retold that story.

Here’s my certificate! Don’t mind the smudge, it was from a celebratory beer, cheers!

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and then i was done.

oops, the title pretty much spoils it.  hahaha, yes it is december 1st, and probably not many are still wondering if i was able to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  well wonder no more!  i did it!  i was really proud of myself by the end of it and celebrated my accomplishment with my wonderful friends.  they bombarded me with excited questions such as, how did you do it?  how did it feel?  are we going to read it?

let’s start with the first question: how did you do it?

there was never a doubt in my mind that i wasn’t going to make it.  it was interesting.  yes 50,000 words looked overwhelming, but breaking it down to how many words a day (1667), it wasn’t that bad.   i figured that would be about the length of a college personal statement (2-3pages).

also, i don’t have a full time job.  on average i work about maybe 25-30 hours a week.  take away some hours for sleeping, and i’m left with over 12 hours a day for misc (that could include going out, eating, watching tv, auditioning, and classes).

24 x 7 = 168 hrs in a week – 30 hrs of work = 138 – 49 hrs of sleep (7hrs/night) = 89 hrs / 7days a week = 12.71 hrs a day.

so, to devote about 2-3hrs a day to writing wasn’t that bad at all.  it actually passed by quickly when i got into the zone.

finally, i wrote what i knew.  myself.  and in doing that, i also discovered a lot of things as well (which for me, was the whole point of the entire process).

i’ve said before that writing for me is a very cathartic act and it was very much so during this past month.  there’s always some part of my life that needs reflection and improvement.  thus, i took one of those parts of my life and used it as fuel to write my novel.

however, it must be clarified that i wasn’t writing a diary/journal/memoir.  that’s too easy.  it’s national NOVEL writing month.  i wanted to actually have a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  i wanted to create, not to retell.  plus it was fun to learn about writing a novel.  i actually read up on do’s and don’ts and to really be cognizant with the reader in mind.  is what i’m saying clear enough for everyone to understand?  is this passage confusing?  inconsistent?  i had to think about writing in first person vs. third person.  i chose third person. ok, well, third person singular?  or third person omniscient?

by no means am i a professional, seasoned writer that knows exactly what she is doing.  i chose to do third person singular, to just concentrate on developing my protagonist.  but by the end, it became third person omniscient.  whatever.  i went to my accountability partner and lamented my inconsistency, but he allowed it saying, “just call it your ‘style’.”

ok, second question: how did it feel?

if you recall from my nov 1st post, i tried to convey how incredibly motivated i was to do this.  i actually wanted to write.  at the crack of dawn on november 1st, after writing a blog post that day, i also went on to write 2000+ words towards the novel.

the easy part was having a story to tell.  i had it.  the hardest part was getting started and figuring out the best way to articulate it.  it took a lot of effort to get started.  i would distract myself by watching top chef, south park, and mtv battle of the seasons.  i would listen to music and wikipedia the artists.  but then once i ran out of things to watch and listen, and then realized how much time i had spent NOT writing, i felt so unaccomplished that that feeling was what made me set to work.

also, the community that nanowrimo had created online was so supportive and fun!  i loved perusing the website and checking my nanomail for pep talks from participating and published authors.  it really did pep me up and gave me that want to write.  i would get emails telling me about all these write ins at coffee shops or ihop around la and just the thought that there were so many people writing just to write was inspiring enough for me to continue typing along.  i actually donated money to their promote literacy and provide writing equipment for kids charities and i even bought myself a nanowrimo 2012 tshirt.  i’ve already sported it around town with pride.

when finally i got to writing and even though i didn’t know exactly what to write or how to write it, by just doing it, by just getting into it, i made some really powerful revelations about myself and my story.  i had an idea of an ending, but by the time i got there, the ending had changed.  i had changed.  i didn’t plan the ending, i discovered it.  the words flowed easily and it was almost an out of body experience as i was acutely aware of myself.

i am my protagonist.  that i did not make up.  and it was interesting to see myself in the third person.  as ironic as it is (because of course i live in irony), when reading novels, i gravitate toward strong women characters, but in writing a novel, my protagonist is a dumbass.  she’s the girl that as loud as you yell ‘don’t go into the basement’ she’s still going to go into the basement and get her head chopped off by the zombie in the corner.  ok, so maybe i am my harshest critic.  that’s why it was such a surprise to discover that i could also empathize with myself as well.  i could forgive her.  it’s ok, people make mistakes.

by writing and reading my writing, i was putting my vulnerabilities on paper.  do you know how emotional that can be?  not only am i putting some part of my life ON PAPER, i’m putting my creativity (or at least what i think of it as creativity) ON PAPER.  the fact that it’s on paper makes it all so real.  so raw.  so scary.  it’s a tangible, literal record of my vulnerabilities.

alright, last question: are we going to read it?

last week i had acting class with my phenomenal teacher, loren.  she really gets me.  she knows that i have shy tendencies and don’t like attention despite the fact that i want to be an actress.  she related to me and said, “i get it.  you don’t like letting people see you at your craft because you’ve just put yourself out there, for everyone to see.  you don’t want to hear any criticism or compliments not because you can’t take them, but because you’ve just put yourself out there and became vulnerable to the point that as soon as it’s over, you’d rather go hide in the back.”

oh yea.  she’s good.  so to answer the above question, no.  no one is reading it. it’s my vulnerability on paper.  i’m not afraid of what people might think or say.  who cares what they think?  who cares what they’ll say?  but to let someone actually hold my vulnerability, to actually have my vulnerability in their hands, is SCARY.  it’s too personal.  some of my best friends want to read it.  they know everything about me.  and they’ll probably never get to read it.

final question to myself: what did i get out of this?

i know from brene brown that to be vulnerable is to be beautiful.  to show my vulnerability is to share my beauty with others.  but i didn’t do nanowrimo in hopes to create a bestseller for money or for praise.  i did it for me.  i was honest with myself and got to see every little idiosyncrasy, every convoluted thought process, every stupid action of me.  and out of it i really did come to see that what makes me me, especially all the vulnerability i had put on paper, makes me beautiful :]

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