This November I’m learning that
The road to happyness is paved with a lot of pain. [tweet this]
I'm discovering this through a new project I'm working on.
I’m participating in NaNoWrimo. Those of you familiar with this can probably already stop reading (just kidding, please read on). In case you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month and NaNoWriMo was set up for those who wish to participate in the challenge of writing a novel in thirty days.
That’s 50,000 words in thirty days to be exact.
As if I didn’t have enough to do what with the riding and teaching and parenting and blogging and editing, and because I’m evidently more of a narcissist than I thought, over a bottle of wine and a wonderful FaceTime chat with a friend in Michigan, I found myself one Wednesday evening signing up at nanowrimo.org and creating my novel, wittingly titled, Untitled.
So much for finishing Tribewriters this year.
Oh well, it will be there after Nano is over to help me finish and edit and market my work, I hope.
And even though it’s National Novel Writing Month, lots of people use NaNoWriMo for non-fiction and other works. There are forums for poets and children’s stories. There are even a handful of people using the challenge to finish their graduate thesis.
Me? I’m writing a novel strongly influenced by my life. It’s a bit of fiction, mostly truth, and a whole lot of drama.
The rules are that there aren’t really any rules, except for one teensy eensy really important one:
Turn off your inner editor.
I can say confidently that this is going to be one of the hardest endeavors of my life.
Here’s what they don’t tell you about writing your memoir- fictionalized or not.
It freakin’ hurts. It doesn’t just hurt like a finger stick hurt, it hurts like that time I pretty much fractured my pelvis when Doc Holiday dropped me onto a 2x4 jump standard- and by dropped I mean dirty stopped and tossed over the shoulder. It hurts like that heart burn that gets so into your heart that you think you could possibly be going in to cardiac arrest. It hurts like staying up for 72 hours straight and being told you still can’t go to sleep.
It hurts. And it’s EXHAUSTING.
After I'm done with any writing session, all I want to do is
throw back some whiskey and go to bed.
I was off to a great start for a newbie to NaNo, writing 2,000 words my first day, and about 1500 the second and 2,000 more over the third/fourth days.
Then I remembered some stuff I had
I remembered events and timeframes. I remembered names of people I couldn’t remember the name of before. Then I gave in to the great Google and started trying to find my past.
You want to know what happened next? I got cranky by the sheer
suckiness overwhelmingness of it all and moped around for three days bingeing Gilmore Girls and Peaky Blinders on Netflix before H looked at me and said, “You are about 6,000 words behind your target.”
“Thanks for reminding me, Captain Obvious,” she says, sticking her tongue out and making raspberry noises like the petulant two-year old she is.
Sometimes you need those that love you most to state the obvious and light a fire under your butt. [tweet this].
So today I took myself and my laptop to my favorite coffee shop and sat down to write.
I even took to social media about it I was so psyched:
Three and a half hours and 4,700 words later, I was proud to report my word count and get my 10,000 word badge!
WooHoo! I had inner cheerleader somersaults going on, until the guy behind the counter gave me a blank look when I proudly proclaimed, "I got in 5,000 words today!"
Come on man, I've been in your establishment for almost four hours, feverishly typing away. I went through a mocha, a cappuccino and the world's largest piece of apple pie and you didn't notice?
Now I’m just exhausted.
I said in a NaNoWriMo/Tribe Writers Facebook (read: support) group that I kind of wish that I would have chosen NaNo to dive in to my secret obsession with young adult fantasy fiction.
“Sure,” H says over dinner, “But then you wouldn’t have the memoir done.”
There he goes with the obvious stuff again.
The fact is, the work is difficult and painful. I’m having to reach in to the recesses of my mind and tap in to things that I’ve long forgotten, both by accident and by choice. There have been sad events, traumatic events, poor decisions and life and death situations. There are even good things that I had forgotten coming to the surface. They are all causing an emotional roller coaster.
But at least it will be done. This will not only be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but, aside from horses, it will be the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done.
By putting the words down I’ll be able to release a part of my soul that’s been tormented and beaten down until it was chained to a wall in a teeny tiny hole in the middle of a bog.
This is an act of self-care on my part. It will not be one of those easy acts of self-care like taking a bath or giving myself a mani-pedi. It will be the kind of act that requires strength and stamina to slowly and repeatedly chip away at very old walls.
But it is also an act of humility and grace. Wounds are re-opened and words on the page are the thread that slowly stick them back together. The finished product, a rough and complicated patchwork quilt that will hopefully wrap myself and others in security.
It's the hard work that sends you down the true path to happyness. [tweet this].
Today was not a bad day at all.
P.S. To all my fellow NaNoWriMo’s, evidently my creative juices are really flowing today- I thought we could all use a blessing: