NaNo Me!

Y’all!! It’s the end of October. And you know what that means, right?

Well … yes. Halloween and trick-or-treating and scary ghost stories and all of that. But October 31 means tomorrow is November 1. And November 1 means the beginning of NaNoWriMo.

Heaven help us all.

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I think I’m going to give NaNo a try again this year, for the first time in a few years. Just thinking about it makes me alternately excited and nervous as heck. I can feel my fingers shaking just a little bit on the keyboard as I type this thought out loud. To be honest, it scares the hoo-hah out of me. The rational part of my brain knows this is silly. It’s not like anyone is watching or paying attention to what I do or grading my performance or anything like that. It’s not like anyone even cares whether I attempt NaNo. And, certainly, the universe doesn’t give a flying flip about whether I succeed in it or not. Rational me knows this.

But there is another part of my brain where Creative Me lives. She has been locked away for what feels like a very long time now. She has almost forgotten the giddy feeling of ecstasy that comes with writing and creating and bringing a thought to life. Creative Me has forgotten she exists. She has become bogged down in the daily struggle with Life and Depression. She has forgotten how to breathe. She has forgotten how to live.

I need to create. I need to write. I need to watch words fly off a keyboard and onto a computer screen or off a pen and onto paper. I need to feel the joy of that once more. I need it so badly that just thinking about it makes me want to cry. And yet, I sit here every day and waste seconds, minutes, even whole hours. I tell myself, every day, I am going to write. But it doesn’t happen.

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I’m scared. That’s the truth of it all. I am scared to death to sit down and write. I feel this way about pretty much anything, which is why blog posts have been few and far between in here. But the idea of writing fiction scares me so much more. I think it’s because I want it so much more. Or because I need it so much more. What if I can’t? What if my creativity is gone? What if it never existed, in the first place? After all, if it was true and real, would Life and Depression be able to steal it away so easily? What if, all this time, I have told myself I am a writer and that the words will come back to me one day, only to find out I was wrong? Only to find out they are gone for forever?

It’s big stuff, this fear. These feelings aren’t for the faint of heart. I have them every time I sit down at the keyboard. I hear those voices in my head every time I put my fingers to the keys: You are not good enough. You will not succeed. No one believes in you. You are nothing.

But, really, I can’t keep going like this. I need something different. We are in a new town now. We are in a new state. I’m happier, overall, because this town is quieter and more peaceful than our previous home. I feel like I can breathe here, without the trapped feeling that dogged me in Virginia. I love our new house. I’m not working yet, although I hope that will come in a few months.

It’s time. It’s time for me to take a deep breath and give this a try. I still don’t know what I’m going to write. But NaNo 2019 … here I come!

Forward Motion

Today, I’ve been thinking about forward motion. I don’t mean like in a car or on a horse or even walking along, although I suppose moving forward is a pretty good thing, no matter how you do it. I’m thinking more about the way we keep on changing and growing as people by learning or trying new things. In a way, it’s kind of a forward motion of the soul, although I suppose that sounds pretty cheesy.

Trying new things is hard. It’s scary. With every attempt, there is a very real risk of failure. Sometimes, you end up feeling like a fool. Sometimes, you end up looking like a fool. I’m not sure which of those things is worse. I think that, often, it feels safer and easier to keep things the way that they are. You know, to guard the status quo, so to speak.

And yet, if we never try new things … if we never reach past our comfortable boundaries … if we never strive … if we never fail … Well, we just kind of stop, don’t we? We might be comfortable and secure in where we are at that particular moment in time, but we won’t ever be more. We won’t continue growing or learning. We won’t ever manage to be the best that we can be. We may not even manage to figure out what that “best” is.

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There are so many ways in which I find myself holding back. I see it often in my writing struggles. There is a part of me — a very small part that lives somewhere deep inside of me — that is confident and bold and full of courage. That little part of me knows I can craft the most wonderful story, something that people will love and want to read, something that will feel like the most amazing adventure. And yet, I continue to struggle with even making myself sit down to put words on paper. I know I’m holding back. I feel it. And yet, I don’t know why. Fear is part of it: the fear of failure. What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong?

Actually, that’s a great question, isn’t it? What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong? What if I write my whole story and it’s horrible or stupid or people hate it? So. What? It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make ME a failure. It just means I tried something that didn’t work out like I had planned.

The true failure is not trying at all. When I hold myself back out of fear … that’s when I have failed. I need to keep repeating this to myself as I sit in front of my computer and as I stare at the blinking cursor. I need to repeat it to myself as I feel the fear take hold of me and stifle the words that live in my imagination. It’s all right to fail. It’s not all right to stop trying. These are the words by which I need to live.

Sad

I am sad today. One of my daughter’s friends is very sick. She ended up in the emergency room early this morning, and is now in the hospital. I’ve been thinking about her all day — thinking and crying and praying and hoping that she will be strong. That she can continue to be brave. That she will be all right. This is a girl who has played with my daughter. She has laughed and giggled and told me funny stories. She has run up to me at afternoon pick-up, brimming with smiles and excitement as she tells me all about her day. She is goofy and brilliant and creative and sweet. Every year, she grows out her hair so that she can cut it short and donate it to children who have cancer. She has a heart that is so big and so tender and so special. She is only a year younger than my daughter. If I close my eyes right now, I can picture her in my mind, her eyes full of happiness and a big smile on her face. I love this little girl. I feel scared for her and for her family.

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But the truth is, I also feel scared for myself. And for my own precious child. It’s horrible and selfish of me. But … I suppose it’s also a very human emotion. If this could happen to my daughter’s friend — to this dear, sweet, beautiful, precious girl — it could happen to my daughter, too. It could happen to my daughter. It’s a truth so terrible and frightening that it rings through my head with a big, final sort of sound. Like a gong going off in the distance, or a foghorn. But not a funny foghorn. A sad one: the kind that’s on a lighthouse, alone and shrouded in misty fog. It’s a truth that feels almost too much to bear. How can I live in a world where terrible things can happen, suddenly and without warning, to someone I love? How can I walk around in this world and pretend that everything is fine when I know that, at any moment, my heart can be ripped right out of me? How can I go on with my life when I know — I KNOW — I am a whisper away from devastation so profound and complete that it will utterly destroy me?

Because I fool myself, each and every day. I face the unknown with a bravado that, quite honestly, I shouldn’t possess. I get in a car and drive down the street, my butt parked right on top of a tank of gas that will explode if it’s hit in just the right spot. I think nothing of traveling in an airplane to visit my family in Texas. Six hours in a metal tube that, somehow, moves through the air at speeds I can’t even fathom. Metal tubes are not supposed to be up in the air. I walk around in blissful ignorance, thinking to myself, “Self, we’re doing pretty damn great today. We can handle this. We can handle life and whatever comes our way. We can DO stuff. Oh yeah. We are awesome-sauce.”

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But sometimes, something happens that makes it impossible to believe all of those lies we tell ourselves each and every day. Sometimes, life walks up and smacks you on the back of the head and reminds you that you don’t have control over everything. You don’t have control over anything, really. There are so many days when I marvel at the sheer dumb luck that has allowed me to continue plugging along on this planet. And you know what? This is not a good feeling. It’s scary.

Today, I feel sad. I feel small. And the universe is big.