With NaNoWriMo, I feel right at home.
By Day Three, Creativity, accompanied by Shame and Fear, is curled up in the corner moaning and trying to sleep, determined to wait out the month-long sentence as if imprisoned in a cold concrete jail cell, clinging to fantasies of the day of liberation, eager to rebelliously bound back to life come December and parole.
It pains me to see Creativity suffering so, especially since I brought on the condition. To nudge Creativity out of its depression and worry, I write and write. I write anything. I write everything. I dance between two stories rather than sticking to one, combining the word count for posting at NaNoWriMo as if two stories could march towards one ending. My process focuses on numbers over content. I consider assembling and inserting shopping lists into the middle of the each tale, a definite ‘kill two birds with one stone’ approach. My writing is looking very odd.
On Day Five, Creativity comes to life, coaxed from its haze by coffee and a sugarcoated pastry. But as with any bout of energy brought on by such delicacies, Creativity plummets into low blood sugar after a short digestion period and returns to resentment over the pressure of my commitment. Stubbornly, it retreats to its corner until I offer to strike a deal.
I consider my options. Like a defendant on trial, I stand and raise my hand. Moving into the co-starring secondary role of judge as only a schizophrenic writer can, I call on myself.
Defendant blurts out in military formality, “Permission to not succeed, sir!”
As judge, I nod in understated affirmation. Defendant sits down and allows a small, triumphant smile to take form. Relief. I’m released from my pledge. I can go back to life as normal.
Only the shaking off of responsibility in the way a wet dog dries its coat is new to me. Honoring my commitments, crossing the finish line, every incarnation of such behavior, is my norm. My obsession. Giving myself permission to not cross the finish line is unfamiliar.
For years I have practiced yoga intermittently. Vinyasa yoga. I didn’t choose this flowing form of yoga. It chose me. Serendipity. The proximity to my home of Sacred Movement, a friendly yoga studio, paired with my ignorance of the vast array of yoga options lands me in Brad’s class.
At first I struggle. I must absorb the classroom routine, the names of poses, learn the etiquette, face my limits. Over time Brad’s way becomes familiar. I no longer must remind myself to breathe rather than hanging onto the air inside my lungs as if I’m an inflated balloon that will shrivel and die if I exhale.
“Take a vinyasa,” Brad instructs, referring to a series of flowing poses. “If you always take the vinyasa, don’t. Hold downward dog instead. If you never take a vinyasa, do.”
Brad knows that breaking your routine offers new perspective. If you must always do more, try doing less. If you always do less, stretch and see what it’s like to do more.
When I consider NaNoWriMo, I examine what I gain by sitting down in the corner instead of sprinting for the finish. I see that I give myself choice. I see that the world does not end when I choose to renounce a pledge. I see what I have accomplished by simply trying.
My timid participation in NaNoWriMo has allowed me to move forward on a story that has been hovering above me for months. Some new characters introduced themselves. A story is taking shape. I am reconnecting to fiction.
I have never been a sprinter. I prefer distance running, for I embody endurance over speed. Just ask my high school cross-country coach. In November I’ve written a lot of words. Most do not count towards NaNoWriMo. But they count to me. And they count to Creativity and my someday novel. Both respect my decision to fail at NaNoWriMo. Both understand that my writing process requires some seasoning.
I'm glad that I gave NaNoMoWri a shot, but I'm mostly glad that I gave myself permission to extend the process. Maybe I can try for NaNoWriDecade. That’s more my speed.