NaNo wrings surprises

Writing every day is my own choice. Nobody is forcing me to sit and await inspiration-strikes or dig for previously unexplored relics. I can’t even blame NaNoWriMo because nobody made me sign up. I thought it would be fun. I wanted to be surprised.

I’m surprised all right. I’m surprised by how wrung out I am by twenty-two consecutive days of writing. It’s not as though my whole day is spent here, but it’s a commitment. It’s one that does not come naturally to me. I had relied on the irrepressible urges to write – if I don’t write I talk to myself, and I know which one is more socially embarrassing. A flare erupts up top and I sit on the cat, or scooch her away, and a flurry of activity results, almost effortlessly. Then I sit back, astonished that my day has been thus interrupted.

But NaNo. No. No flares, lately. Flares have departed. Flurries diminished. I feel underfed, wrung out like a toothpaste tube. It’s not pretty. I’m… well, I was going to say I’m pustular. Nobody needs that mental image. But I feel like a leftover Halloween prop that a horse sat on. At the end of the month, I’m counting on my body’s healing instinct to restore my pre-NaNo dimensions and patina.

Fingers crossed. Too stubborn to stop now. There have to be more words left in the old fart.

PS: I don’t really sit on the cat. That was a lie for dramatic effect, in case you worried. She’s spoiled rotten and I didn’t want to admit that part. If she steals my desk chair, I use the exercise ball. And the top photo was taken at a public garden, where I like to walk my old camera.

Fast and slow writing

During an online reading binge, one blog post led to another and suddenly I was here, feeling exhilarated about a single entry on Goodreads. The Art of Slow Writing: reflections on time, craft and creativity, by Louise DeSalvo, sounds like my kind of writing manual.

My whole life is slow. I wake slowly, move slowly, and everything passes in a dream. No, really, I could pass as a hipster, living slowly and locally by default. I backfire and stall when I try to rush. Sometimes it’s comical. I also fight, fly or freeze when too far from home; and when I say too far, I mean beyond about a hundred metres. That’s not fun, just frustrating. It hasn’t always been like this, but it’s my current situation. When I reframe my disability as a hipster affectation it seems cool, or uncool in a modern sort of way.

I can write fast. It’s a train wreck yet it’s possible. I can comment with gay abandon on social media as fast as anyone, or rabbit on in emails or elsewhere. Whether I’ll respect myself in the morning is anyone’s guess. It’s not that I’m drunk commenting, but caffeine and sugar have noticeable effects on my affect (mood) and while it feels great in the moment, well, you know how it goes. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you could be teaching me a thing or two about responsible commenting. Let’s just say that writing slowly, for me, is more responsible.

So, NaNoWriMo. It’s started, and although I promised myself that I wouldn’t be sucked into the vortex of word counts and hype, I’ve already felt stressed by my lack of oomph. The heat sucked the oomph right out of me. I could barely think, let alone write coherently. And yet I managed to add to my existing documents as well as my blog posts. I made a start and can build on that, day by day, in a slow, organic fashion.

I’ve resolved to view mistakes as learning experiences instead of mortifying incidents that haunt me. When I resort to incoherent typing for the sake of word count, I can consider that to be ‘pre-writing’. Even my smart aleck warm-up writing exercises can be reinterpreted as me finally accepting my imperfection. Everything can be reframed as a positive.

The final sentence in the online book review is the one I return to:

DeSalvo skillfully and gently guides writers to not only start their work, but immerse themselves fully in the process and create texts they will treasure. 

This is what I intend to do, this month. I’ll sink slowly into the ooze, then craft, ferment and eventually savour the depth and complexity of the slow-roasted result. How’s that for mixing metaphors and high expectations? I may end up with compost instead. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Yet that too could be reframed as a win – a growing medium for the next batch of slow-growing words.

Who needs to see or eat, anyway?

Another hot blustery day in late Spring and I slept like Rip Van Winkle, awoken after noon, for crying out loud, by god knows what. Sticky, aggravated, earplugs still in from shutting out the neighbourhood and the wailing-for-no-reason cat, mouthguard in so I don’t grind what’s left of my teeth to chalk. I’m irrationally cranky and no less cranky for being aware of it.

Embarrassing to be whinging about being sweaty, when my hoarding of warm bedding started after a prolonged period of being too cold. Embarrassed for waking so late when some are forced to wake before the sparrows and commute hours to crummy jobs. For goodness sake, DustBunny, get your whinges in order and now might be the right time to get back on the gratitude bandwagon.

Oh boy, am I grateful. Am I? Of course.

My computer rebooted itself abruptly after a software update, and lost the rest of my ramble. Lovely!

So now I’m grateful for a do-over.

I’m grateful for friendships with ex-partners and for memories such as a child’s involvement in NaNoWriMo and the household Happy Jar. I re-read some Happy Jar entries yesterday (old ones, stuck in a scrap book) and plan to incorporate them into my book. For those who haven’t encountered such jars, you fill them with pieces of paper. On each paper scrap you write briefly about something that made you happy that day. Mine are often scraps of random-as-heck conversation with my best friend, or moments in public that were surprisingly fun. I recall my ex’s child writing about my enjoyment of a home-grown fig. Truly, is there anything more exquisite than a freshly picked, sun-warmed fig?

My best friend hates figs, so I’ve since planted four trees and know I don’t have to fight him for them. I also tell him that human urine makes a wonderful strawberry fertiliser, to keep him from those delicacies. He has his own tricks, don’t you worry. He took me shopping this week, after my support worker became unavailable at the last minute. “It’s ok, who needs to eat?” I asked the lovely woman on rostering, who knows me far too well. We laughed. Being of nervous persuasion I plan for such contingencies and stockpile, just a little, just cans. But I still need fresh vegetables. And I’d been hoping to dash into the optometrist for a quick frame adjustment, so that I could stop pushing the darn things up my nose. But who needs to see, anyway? And I’m grateful for hands, to be able to push them, and for the money I spent on glasses in the first place, so that I could push and curse all day.

The air is blue. I like blue. I’m thankful for that too.

Thanks, fabulous humans!

Today I’m here to give thanks for everyone who has read, commented on and shared my blog posts. It’s already given me such enjoyment and satisfaction to be part of this network.

Now I’m gearing up to begin my first NaNoWriMo. Holy mackerel! 

The aim is to complete my book’s first draft during November. I was going to say ‘break its back’ but that sounds gruesome, like I’ve run over a goanna on my bicycle. Who needs that image in their head while writing a memoir? @jedigirl, I imagine you could whip it into something wonderful, being a whizz with writing prompts.

I usually get nervous whenever my contacts list creeps over 40 (sometimes even 30) on any online platform, because I’m incapable of maintaining meaningful friendships with that number of humans. Cats, perhaps, but not humans. Now this blog has more than 40 followers, which somehow isn’t scaring me in the same way. Perhaps it’s because some of those followers have hundreds of their own, so they probably won’t notice me lurking here in the shrubbery. Some, like @bloomwordian and @jefftcann, have seemingly limitless contacts and just as much energy for networking. I’m avidly observing their community-building skills, and gradually getting to know those who regularly like and comment here. I appreciate the company and encouragement. It’s a supportive little ecosystem. Fruitful!

Speaking of fruit, I don’t know whether that’s still a code name for queers, but goodness, I’m pleased to see so many here. We’re not all in a position to be ‘out’ or visible, I know this, and I appreciate those who are. @kylieluvsart will help many, I can tell. @raisingorlando has already helped, through fierce self-reflection and advocacy. Knowing that allies will speak up to bullies and in response to misinformation gives me such a full heart, I can’t even express it. 

A nod to my familiar, today named Killer Whale for the purposes of this blog, who is currently studying my Apple mouse and squeakily purring. At odd moments I attempt to channel the voice of @colinfmcqueen to narrate Killer Whale’s household activities. There are many pauses, just ripe for droll asides.   

And now I’ve run out of steam, or it is caffeine? There are many I’d like to thank by name and I’m unsure whether they would enjoy that exposure. If I’ve ever hugged you in person, be sure I’d love to hug you again for being part of this exposure therapy experiment. @edowers, we’ll get to the lake eventually! @zashin, I’m still counting on meeting you in an alternate universe for coffee and garden tours. 

The rain has paused and I’m drawn to venture outside for weeding, birdwatching and Vitamin D, so hooroo for now and thanks again. Let me know if you’ll be part of NaNoWriMo?

PS. if these tags don’t work, could someone please instruct me on how to fix them?