Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29

Well, November is almost over.

And, just like last year, I've managed NaBloPoMo just fine, but have crashed and burned on NaNoWriMo.

What can I say? I'm much less invested in the Blog than I am in the novel. I can sit and write whatever I happen to be thinking about at the moment here. Many other people are much better at this than am I, but it's still enjoyable and worthwhile for me to take some time each day to write... something.

And this month, that something was not my novel. I did start with a new idea this year, and it wasn't a teen fiction. Two steps in the right direction. But it took half the month to just get the story into my thought pattern, and then it was too overwhelming to consider playing catch-up at that point. Not if I wanted to do it justice.

And herein lies the struggle with which I've been dealing since my teen years: that feeling that if I can't do it "right" - I'd be better off avoiding it completely. I have it with the novel; I don't have it with the blog. Therefore, I blog effortlessly every day, but must take weeks to psychologically prepare myself to work on the novel. There's a lesson here...

When I work at something and allow myself to care about it - and I mess it up or don't do as well as I'd like at it - it's frustrating and disheartening. I can see the pull in myself toward "If I had the time to do that, I'd like it and I'd do well at it... but I just don't have the time." That way, I can at least be successful in my fantasies, and blame any failure on external circumstances rather than my own lack of talent or unwillingness to work at getting better.

On the other hand, there's definitely something to be said for doing something despite the fact that I'm not going to excel at it. Sometimes, just the fact that I'm doing it at all is excellent.

Take martial arts, for example. I've never been athletic. I've never played a sport, and any attempts at exercising to lose weight or get in shape have been short-lived. I've just never been good at any of it. And I'm not especially good at martial arts. I watch other people who learn the material faster, perform the actions with more precision and power - and I wish I could be as good as they are. But I'm okay with the fact that I'm not - and so are my teachers. The philosophy there is that everyone is on her own path, comes with her own strengths and weaknesses, and as long as we keep coming and keep working at it, we will eventually get better.

So that's what I do. I just keep showing up, even though I'm not the best at it - and I have gotten better. A lot better. I'm still not where I'd like to be, but neither are a lot of people, and I know that I'm never going to be if I stay home kicking butt in my fantasies.
And if all I did was focus on the part I don't have yet, I would miss out on all the wonderful things I have gained from this imperfect pursuit.

Since starting martial arts almost a year and a half ago, I've been trying to remember this and to apply it to other areas. Parenting. Marriage. Homeschooling. Friendship.


The structure of NaNoWriMo is supposed to discourage too much ruminating over whether your writing is good enough or not - the word count and time constraints don't really allow you time to think too deeply about any of it. Just write write write as fast as you can and worry about the editing and polishing in January. November is for just showing up day after day and doing something.

Every November 29 I seem to have learned something new from this experience, and I think that was the take-home for this month.

I'll do my best to apply it going forward. I'm not always going to be the perfect wife, mother, or friend - but I keep showing up to try my best, and there's value in that. I can keep allowing myself to be imperfect at writing too.

But right now I need to get to kickboxing class, where I will be happily mediocre. And no one will fault me for it. There, my best is good enough for everyone, including me.


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