This is a test. This is a test to see how long it takes me to write 1600ish words, which is what my daily goal will be each day starting in November.
It has been a long time since I have written with any sort of consistency. I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) one time in November of 2009 or 2010. I did complete a novel then, a bad one, but what I loved is that it trained me to make time every day to write. I want to do that again. 1600ish words a day, 50,000 words for the month of November.
Just over a month ago I started receiving emails from NaNoWriMo. I had not received them for years. Somehow I got back on their mailing list, and I might not have thought anything of it, except that I had already committed to participate in InkTober - a challenge where you use ink and daily prompts to draw everyday during the month of October. Wouldn’t it be easy to replace the time I have given to InkTober to NaNoWriMo? I thought. And besides, haven't I been feeling the tug to write, write, write again?
Words have been hard to focus on for me over the past year. Reading and writing have been a struggle. I haven’t felt my familiar draw to devour them or divulge them. But over the past couple weeks they have started to cycle back through for me, as I’ve pulled out some familiar favorite books and as I’ve reconnected to some of my favorite writing voices. Perhaps there are still some words in me. Perhaps I can muster up the umph to share.
I am thinking I will post the words here on my blog. It is helpful to me to have a catch and release, so it feels like I am actively flexing my self-expression muscle by taking that vulnerable step of sharing the words. It has been so long since I’ve shared words in this way. It feels like a different lifetime, and I’m wondering if I can hurl myself hard enough at that brick wall to bust through my writing block labeled platform 9 and 3/4. I am not scared of if I can write words, but whether if I care to let the words I do write be shared with others. There is a me that I hold so dear, and I know the cost of making that me visible isn’t for the faint of heart. I know it well. I know I don’t have to share a thing. I know that even in baring the pieces of myself that I can, much of me will still remain unseen, and that is maybe the hardest part of all. People can only see what their story makes rooms for. If my story has grown outside their perimeters, they simply won’t be able to see those parts of me. For all that work of sharing the best and most truthful version of myself, something for many will still get lost in translation. Something for which I have absolutely no energy to correct. Ah well. Maybe there will be a few who can hear me. There is something stirring inside me and once it gets stirred (not shaken) I have to see it through. I can already feel myself seeing it through. This is the way of art. It comes through at all costs when it is time for it to do so.
I read a children’s book recently called “How to Make Friends With a Ghost,” and it struck me that this is how I address fear in my life, as a little invisible ghosty friend (I can see her, but no one else can) that accompanies me anytime I seek to grow larger than my known borders. I am actively growing larger. My soul knows no limits. My body does its best to keep up. Such a good sport.
I need to pause and say two things here. 1. I will not be writing a novel for NaNoWriMo. (More on that soon.) And 2. I will be writing stream of consciousness. It is the form of writing that feels most true to me. This style of writing was developed in my Senior year of high school thanks to studying Peter Elbow in Creative Writing class. There is an essay I can point you to if you’re interested. I think of it every few years and look it up again and read it. It is a way of writing that helps me write truer. And not only truer, but also, more importantly, with more pleasure. When I write stream of conscious I feel great pleasure, and this is what I am really after these days in my art - my own pleasure.
Ah, Mandy, doesn’t that feel good?
Why yes, it does thank you very much.
And so on I go.
I will not be writing a novel because I don’t want to. I will be writing memoir I suppose. Essays about me and my ghost friend. I will be writing blog posts here and there, as the words spill out and as I relax into opening, opening, opening up to this process once again. I will be writing so as to open up my fingers, one knuckle at a time. Can my hands be open to giving myself this gift of pleasure - to write and to also release? It is something like a meditation. Me showing up and doing my part. Me willing. Me not clenching onto the words when I fear they won’t mean on the outside what they mean on the inside. This is such a life-giving experiment. I feel alive knowing there is a risk and fear and a facing it all.
It is actually riding my bike that made me think about writing again. Riding my bike the past year and a half has been so scary, and the fear came to its pinnacle when my body recently went paralyzed as I stopped on the edge of a small hill and refused to ride down. I can’t. I won’t. Not yet. I’m not ready. This instance made me think of other instances I have felt this sort of fear in my life - when I started teaching, when I started a job at a coffee shop, when I first started a blog, when I started writing a book. Do you see the pattern? Upon STARTING something NEW, my ghosty shows up and wants to play.
I've actually missed that feeling. In a weird sort of way, that paralyzed feeling in my body is associated with warm memories of showing up for myself and doing something externally that was blazing internally, even though I wasn’t sure about succeeding, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to be seen by other people. When I challenge myself to noticeably show up in my life as a new and improved expanding version of myself, I get terrified. I also get hyped. I haven’t felt this sort of hype in a long time, and feeling it again on my bike made me hungry for more in other areas of my life.
I am not a thrill seeker, but I am quite the pleasure seeker. Just as I believe it is the little things that make a life so special, I believe it is the little daily risks that add up to making a fulfilling and pleasurable life.
I’m stopping to count words now. The rain is coming down outside. The temperature has dropped since the sunny and 70’s of yesterday. In a moment I will be wrapping my trench coat tight around me and buttoning one button so it stays put before walking to my car (why did I leave my umbrella in my car?) But for now I am stopping to count words to see if I am anywhere close to 1600 and also anywhere close to believing this November goal is actually in my grasp. It has been so long since I’ve written.
I’m at 1479, and I haven’t even broken a sweat.
I’ve still got it. This dream is on. This goal is set. This is happening.
I just smiled to myself because I found it humorous that what is really to be discovered through all this writing is not how unfigurable out that I am (yes I will be making up words.) What I mean to say is perhaps the fear is not that others won’t understand me, but that they will feel they know me in a jiffy. That really I am just so very, very simple and my way of living is so very very easy and the ghosty is so very very tiny and my path is so very very ordinary. This is the real challenge, to take all this simple me in this simple life and portray, with a few choice words everyday, how I feel so extraordinary and massive and immortal. How my soul inside me feels like a great and powerful genie squeezed into this tiny lamp of a body and how my role here is to let that all come out in this tiny little package of a life.
The fear is that everyone will find me just like them, so relatable, when really I am something bigger than anyone else can ever be because I am myself. It is all the grandeur that I fear will go missed. I do not write to make me small, I write to let all the big come forth. Because I walk around with all this bigness inside of me and it wants a place to go. If I don’t write about it I can stay the legend that I am in my own mind, but to talk about it I become a simpleton on a shared course with humanity and oh but aren’t we all just one afterall.
I write to say we are not all one, if by one you mean the same, the collective, the unison voice. I write to say I am me, and I don’t care to dilute that in the waters of “me too.” I don’t care for that at all.
I don’t wish to be a symphony. I wish to be a solo. Don’t you? Don’t you?
This is the part that makes my bike so very paralyzing to ride, because even with my team jersey on, I ride the bike alone. The hill is mine to descend. The hill is mine to climb. The falls are my body to bruise. The speed is mine to maintain or increase. It is my head to get into and to get out of. It is my own caution that must be exercised and when it is time, my own risk that must be taken.
All I care about is letting all the genie-sized potential out of me in whatever exit path it wishes to take. I am small, but I am mighty. I am here to tell you just how mighty I am.
1983 words. I will call this a bold start.