Today is NaNoWriMo Day One, and I planned for this day to begin very differently. When I posted two weeks ago about my plan to participate again in National Novel Writing Month this November, I had grand plans for that two-week countdown. I was going to research and plan some sort of outline approach for my project this year. I was going to cull through old writings and collect paths to be followed in this work. I was going to be prepared. This preparedness is a regular ambition of mine, which applies to most things I attempt, from cleaning to crafting down to every single thing on my million lists. I am an Idealist (ENFJ, remember?), and this natural ambition is a gift but can also often feel a curse.
|Art: Old Souvenirs, by John F. Peto|
Here is what I actually achieved in this past two weeks: no planning, no research, no outline, and almost no actual writing, if I'm being honest. Even my morning pages have gotten the shaft more days than I would like to admit. This happened partly because I do this thing with my ambition, like when one person has such a crush on another person that they freak their crush out before the crush is even interested in getting to know them at all. I have a crush on my ambition, or ideal, and sometimes I can kill it before I even get to know it better. I realize that is a lame and very high school analogy (middle school?? elementary?? lower?!?), but hopefully you catch my drift. I wanted so badly to be ready for a great NaNoWriMo that I put off getting ready because I was afraid I wouldn't be. How masochistic of me, and yet this can be a very repetitive pattern in my life.
The other half of the story is that we had to pull off an unexpected move over these past couple of weeks, from one home to another. The circumstances of the move have been complicated and annoying, but everyone is healthy and there are no real disasters involved. The move has been quite a pain, but I know there are so many worse things you can face. I am a firm believer in trying hard to protect your creativity no matter what the obstacle, and I failed my own beliefs as my writing slipped away from me a bit throughout this process. But I also was really encouraged to realize how much I missed my writing time and creative practice. And I found myself really motivated to complete as much of the moving and organizing as possible before today, because I really wanted to create more space again in my days for this project.
|Art: Office Board, by John F. Peto|
As I woke up this morning, I felt a mixture of anxiety and anticipation about my NaNoWriMo beginning. I was eager to dive in and get going, but the nagging thought persisted that I had not prepared as I intended. I did my best to shut down the ugly thoughts and lean into the gifts of present possibility. I had a whole day to spend unraveling my creative practice and my NaNoWriMo project however it needed to happen. I began with morning pages, coffee, a good breakfast, and prayers for the ability to be honest, gentle and disciplined with myself as I entered my practice. I sat down to write, and glanced quickly through some old notes from prior attempts to work on this project. I caught wind of one of those ideas, and I made myself start typing.
Two thousand words later, I had reached my goal! (2028 words, to be exact- I try to begin with a more ambitious goal to help pad those days which will prove harder later.) And while it did require honesty, gentleness and self-discipline, I was reminded of exactly what it is I love about this project. I had forgotten to register on the website that I would be participating in the project this year, and so when I went online today to register, I found just the message I needed. The tagline for National Novel Writing Month, taken directly from their website, is "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon."
My work will require organization, preparedness, and discipline in many of its stages. But the stage I need most right now, which I couldn't even see clearly until I was done with today's writing, is this goal of "literary abandon." I need to keep my bottom in the chair and get the words out onto the page. I need to work with my words until a form begins to emerge and I need to follow my thoughts until I learn more about where, exactly, they are leading me.
|Art: The 49 States, by Matthew Jensen|
Happy November and Happy National Novel Writing Month!! I hope that each of you are embracing a chance for creative abandon in your own life, whatever form it takes for you. And if any of you decided to participate in NaNoWriMo along with me, I am here cheering you on and wishing you well!!
(These photos were taken a month or so ago on a quick trip to NYC - my first time ever visiting, can you believe it?! We had a busy couple of days but spent one amazing hour at the Met, and these were a couple of pieces of art that caught my eye. These works offer a lovely reminder to me of the way that art often comes in layers, through consistent pursuit of something that is not yet fully known.)