Monday, November 2, 2015

Word of the Week - 87

NaNoWriMo illustration, courtesy of this blog.
Word of the Week:  NOVEMBER

Twice I've been an unofficial participant in NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place each November.  I say unofficial for while I've done the work, I have not submitted it for word count verification, etc.

When I began, I understood the guidelines to be:  between November 1 and 30, write a minimum of 50,000 words of a novel, only a novel but in any form or genre, and, as I recall the first year I looked up the rules, we were told not to edit, not even to backspace, but to fly forward with all possible speed.  Both times I met and exceeded the word goal, though the first attempt could hardly be called a novel, more likely an exercise is writing really fast.  The second was more novel-shaped and contained many parts that could be salvaged and reworked.  I'm still not certain that I wish to write a novel.  I know I have no wish to try and sell one.

This October, as notices of NaNoWriMo began to appear, I decided I needed to apply that focus to something currently more important, my neglected art.  If I am successful, I'll report about finding my way back to a drawing practice, something I miss enormously.  The days become full and I grow weary before I've done any of that work which is at least as much a part of me as writing.  The fact that time seems to evaporate around me does not make anything easier.  How can it be November of 2015 already?

I'm telling this because I believe I am capable of more than I do,  by setting up some realistic daily requirements I can add a specific joy back into my life.  I may need to give myself a schedule that limits Facebook to certain days a week.   I know I'll miss the people and things I find there - my version of curating is also a source of happiness - but those stamps aren't going to draw themselves.  We are asked to make choices.  As I write this around noon on Sunday, I have behind me an hour of drawing, done before I even turned on the computer.  That is how it will have to be.  On Saturday I completed an eight-episode Halloween story, which I'd intended to be three episodes.  I enjoyed the work and woke up on Sunday thinking of the characters and what might be next for them.  I wonder the same for myself.


Melissa Green said...

My dear, my dear. Work done drawing which you love before you even turn on the computer (aspects of which you also cherish and need). Sounds completely doable. I adore setting myself daily goals and look down the road as if I've already passed through those gates and stiles, succeeding effortlessly, and twinkleoe-ing it into the next week, next month, next year. Somewhere, after a very short while (and it seemed like such a fine idea at the time!) I find I have drifted away, have forgotten all about my plans for myself, and blunder through my days/weeks/months without the scaffolding of that bright idea.

I think it was John Cheever who every morning used to shave, get dressed in a spiffy suit and tie, walk through the house down into the basement, where he would disrobe to his underwear and sit all day writing in his BVDs.

Aristotle said, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit--sounds so simple. But it's the basis of everything: learning to paint, learning to sew, becoming a runner, playing piano--it's practice practice practice until the muscle memory kicks in and you do it without thinking, you are bound to it and it to you like a tree and its shadow.

If you thought about how many times in the next ten years you had to brush your teeth, you'd be floored and then despondent---how in the world would you ever manage such an overwhelming task? But that's not how it gets managed. It's only 'for today' that I have to brush my teeth, sew quilt squares, draw before turning on the computer.

Put up a big sign over your desk, 'I LOVE DRAWING". Anything that will continue to remind you every morning without fail that this is your joyful task. xoxoxo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - The reminder of habit, which I know and have known, is one I take to heart, for we do easily forget our plans for ourselves, or at least I do. It is lovely to see your name and thoughtful words here. I've realized that one of the difficulties with drawing is that for 20 years I did all my drawing sitting on my bed, in one particular spot, one specific position. It produced results that surprised and delighted me. Last autumn that changed as I was no longer able, because of mobility difficulties, to work in that familiar, comfortable way and now have to find a new habit. Everything that isn't that feels odd and makes me feel less skilled. To work, to work. xo