Let the Madness Begin

Let the Madness Begin

2013-Participant-Vertical-BannerIt’s October 2 and the NaNoWriMo website has been rebooted for this year’s festivities. If you had a halo from 2012’s event, it’s gone — though I’m sure we’ll see them popping up around the site on a regular basis.

I adore NaNo. This is Year 12 for me and while there have been one or two years when I’ve hesitated about signing up, I’ve never regretted it. And I know it’s crazy to commit to writing 50,000 words during November when you’re just coming off Halloween and there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas prep to begin and everyone needs your attention for something, but that’s the thrill for me. It’s a chance to make certain you do something for yourself, taking that time when it’s all about you.

Besides, the excuse “Haven’t finished today’s words” has allowed us to skip out early from family celebrations that were dragging on way too long more than once over the years. So, bonus there.

There have been years when I wasn’t writing for publication, when I wasn’t writing at all. NaNo has at times proved to be my lifeline to sanity because here’s the thing about people who discover they’re writers: they feel compelled to write. Just because I was on a detour on my writing journey didn’t mean the desire and need wasn’t there. In fact, for all that my husband jokes about girding his loins for the insanity of November, he’s always encouraged me to sign up and dive in whole-heartedly. “You’re happier when you’re writing,” he says.

So if you’re thinking about signing up for this year, wander over to the site. If you’re not but know someone who might enjoy 30 days of literary abandon, point them toward the website. And please consider donating, even if you can only throw $5 or $10 in the kitty. In addition to keeping the website forums going, there’s also the Young Writers Program which provides free material to teachers to encourage students to give writing a try.

Are you NaNoing this year? If you aren’t, what are you going to take time to do for yourself during the insanity of the holidays?

Refilling the Well

Refilling the Well

Carousel Socks in Progress by Caro Kinkead

The writing’s been going well this week, but Saturday morning found me oddly out of sorts. Got up late and when I settled down to write, the mind wouldn’t focus and I found myself staring at the blinking cursor, my mind a complete bank.

Part of it was the fact the weather was steamy and, as Cole Porter so eloquently put it, too darn hot. But another part of it was the fact that I’d had a rough week at the day job and a couple of family things demanding attention while I’d kept up the writing. The mythical muse hadn’t gone on a quickie vacation to the Bahamas (or the much-cooler climes of Scotland); the plain, simple fact was that the well was dry at that moment.

Yes, a working writer needs to write even when you’re not in the mood and the words for the day haven’t been produced, but seeing as it was a Saturday, I took much of the day off, relaxed on the couch to help fight the headache that had arrived with the heat and knit. Turner Classics was running in the background (yesterday’s star was Freddie Bartholomew), and I allowed myself time to be lost in the pleasure of knitting. I’m currently working on a pair of Carousel Socks that are constructed by knitting a continuous strip, then adding the heel and the toe. The yarn is Picnic Blanket, with was one of the June Sock Yarnista Club choices from Three Irish Girls.

Now, I’ll confess that the June choices for the club didn’t thrill me at first and I picked this skein because the other one was way too pink cotton candy for me. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, figuring it would linger in my stash until I decided to offer it up for sale. Then I saw the Carousel pattern and knew it was perfect. What originally looked like a hot mess I wouldn’t ever want to use is slowly being shaped into something unique and interesting that will be a joy when it’s finished.

I was able to get words done yesterday, enough to fill my daily minimums, though hardly at the level I’d been managing during the week. I didn’t mind, though. Despite the lingering headache, I felt better because I’d taken that time to do something just for myself and just for the fun of it. It doesn’t matter what we’re trying to achieve in our lives, be it writing a novel, starting a new business, moving up the corporate ladder, creating a warm and loving home for our family, or whatever something else completely, there comes the moment when we have to stop, even if it’s just for a little while, and focus completely on ourselves. The better care you take of yourself, the more you make certain the creative/emotional well is filled, the better you’ll do in whatever your goal is.

How are you going to take care of yourself this week? What’s going to help you fill that well?

Free Man in Paris

Free Man in Paris

I’m starting to go back to walking. I had been going to the gym downstairs in my office (it’s company run, so free membership), but it always seemed to be a thing because I’d have to schlep along my gym stuff, change and store my things before going out to see if a treadmill was open and hope I didn’t get the one in front of the television running Dr. Oz. No offense to anyone who might enjoy the show, but being told how we’re all eating ourselves to death or viewing pictures of someone’s colon is not something I find conducive to a relaxing workout. Then you have to clean off the equipment, get your stuff out of your locker and then head out of the building for the day. That is, if some contractors don’t stop you to ask a question about work on your way out. (This has happened. More than once.)

Over the weekend, though, I felt restless, pulled on my trusty chucks, grabbed my pod and headed out to the bike path that runs near our house. And it felt good. It felt more than good; it felt easy. Well, not too easy. I definitely felt the effort in my legs. But I enjoyed myself and on Monday, when I felt like digesting on the couch, I pulled on the chucks and did it again. And again Tuesday night.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron urges folks to take walks and there’s a wisdom to that suggestion. It’s not just good for the body, it takes you away from the blinking cursor that’s staring at you or the reality show that seems much preferable to facing that blinking cursor or the pile of laundry you need to fold. I tend to walk in the early morning or in the evening, when it’s not fully light and I can pretend the world is my own, even with the other folks sharing the bike path. I have the pod going and let my mind wander where it will. Even if I do the walk at the end of the day, I come back feeling refreshed. Like the chorus in Joni Mitchell’s song, I’m free for that time, no one wanting things from me and anything is possible.

Walking Tuesday night, I made some decisions about a project I want to begin, something that is going to need some effort to begin with, but that I think will be very rewarding. It was nice because I had that time to think and make the decision that yes, I do want to do this. No one guilted me into this; it came from inside and that’s a good feeling.

I think I’ll be skipping the gym for a while and hitting the bike path instead. How about you? What’s the way you get some time for yourself?

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