Thursday, November 28, 2013

Playing Big, Part 2

So I've completed, in less than a month, NaNoWriMo (which is an event/goal/Writer-supported thingy designed to write a 50K novel in a month).
I had a few rough days (under 1K words), but ultimately I had no problem writing about 2K words a day. Did you read that? I had no problem...which means that I willingly, and enjoyingly (I know, now I think I can make up words!), wrote 50K words in 25 days.
To almost every other person, this is exciting but not surprising. I am a writer, after all, they say. But I guess I thought it would be harder, or I would get bored, or I would succumb to those damn critics along the way. But I didn't. And that means something to me. It means that I will be a writer, no matter what. A decision to be a writer, or a lot of blank books, does not a writer make. I don't have that NPR "writer voice." My wardrobe, writing area, voice/style are not typical of the professional writers I know. I'm extroverted. I like talking. All of these things point away from my very stale and outdated image of a writer. But make no mistake, I am a writer.
Boxes of journals, 10 running blogs (not blogs about running, but blogs that are running), more writing classes under my belt than any other class in my undergrad degree, and when I think, the thoughts come out like they are ready to be written down.
For some reason (okay, I know the reason, and I've been in therapy for years about it), I have been doing what I call, "bad math."

David Sedaris is considered (at least, by me) to be a great writer. I do not write like him, therefore I am not a great writer.

Now, being a writer might mean that math isn't generally a strong suit, but even I know this doesn't add up. And I'm pretty sure if David Sedaris thought there was (or was okay that there was) a slew of people NOT admitting that they want to be writers or that they are already writers, just because he's reached such acclaim, he would probably not like that at all. I know I wouldn't. Just because I am talented, doesn't mean someone else isn't!

So acknowledging that writing 50K words in less than a month is a big deal (my friend had to tell me this, of course, since I thought, "Okay, that's done"). And the book is not bad, even in rough form.

This is the playing big I was talking about in an earlier post. I can't keep NOT writing. I can't keep pretending no one wants to hear what I have to say (that excuse is really silly! So I should stop talking altogether, then?). Someone does. One person (at least) does. That's plenty. If one person liked one sentence of my book, I would be happy. Because, as a reader too, my world has been changed again and again with one sentence. One measly sentence has echoed in my head years after I read the book. That's why I write. That echo, that organization of words on paper, sings in my heart like a well-played song. And I'll hum that song for the rest of my life.

I'll let the rough draft sit a bit, then I'll go back and edit, and then I will begin the process of getting it published. If I wasn't the one who had written it, I'd take it off the shelf and have a look. That says something. I admit I'm scared. Even though this is what I've dreamed of for what seems like forever, I'm scared of the rollercoaster. But I can safely say that I've spent plenty of time not being published, so I should simply try something new.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trading off

My family went on a field trip for Veteran's Day to visit the grave of Great-Grandpa Alvin Russert. He was buried in a cemetery that's just for veterans. I'm not always a fan of cemeteries because it's somber (or intended to be), reminds me of my late loved ones, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood. But we went and I was happy to get out of the house, truth be told.

As expected, many other people were there. All the headstones looked the same, save for a few extras like religious symbols and "beloved wife" or "beloved husband." We thought we knew where G-pa Russert was, but didn't see his stone at first. So we wandered around looking. I let K get down and he was weaving in and out of the headstones. He was barefoot, in good spirits (he had a little phone with him and he was saying Hi a lot, like he was calling people--I had to laugh!), and generally keen on the freedom and the interesting stones.

We finally found G-pa Russert and headed over. We are Jewish and our custom is to put a rock on the headstone, instead of flowers, because they don't die. It can stay there for as long it does.

So we put the rock on and K just look at the headstone, waved, and said, "Hi." Like it was a person, plain as day. Of course that choked us up a little. And then he leaned in to kiss the stone. It was this perfect, unrehearsed, surprising moment of innocence.

I believe in unseen beings and I believe we were actually visiting Grandpa Russert. And it seems K did too. But more than that, I noticed that adults, specifically around letting go of loved ones, have so many conflicting feelings and experiences. I tend to be a bit desensitized, since I have a spiritual connection to my lost loved ones, but letting go of people is not easy to do, or even talk about doing (or not doing).

And here was my kid, saying hi, giving kisses unbid, and clearly not "letting go" of anything. Why should he? He has nothing to let go of. He never knew G-pa Russert physically, so if their relationship is purely spiritual (I know, I am assuming a lot, but he does share my DNA), then he can hold on as tightly as he wants.

That made me feel so much better. K also never met his other Great-Grandpa Keith, who was also a veteran, and just seeing K at ease, saying Hi, planting kisses on cold stone, and not needing to be somber, made me feel better about letting go, because K is happily holding on. We can trade off. I can let go of some things, and K can hold on to them, because honestly, there's not reason for HIM to let go, is there?

If we all let go at once, that would be insane. Some of us need to hold on a little longer, and others can let go in moments. I like that.


My favorite baby

My inspiration

My inspiration