To #NaNoWriMo or Not to #NaNoWriMo

It’s been a couple of years since my first and only participation in National Novel Writing Month. Despite my reticence of previous years, I found it a great experience and I was very glad I tried it.

Last year this time, I thought I’d try it again, but the beginning of #NaNoWriMo happened while I was on a honeymoon. Who knew two people could sleep so much when relaxing on a boat!? Suffice to say, I was focused on other things and could never really get my mind on starting or continuing work on anything major last fall.

So here we are.

I think I’m in, but I’m not positive. In a few short weeks, I’ll be undergoing a surgical procedure. I’ve never been under general anesthesia. I’ve never even had a broken bone. I simply have no idea what to expect (and I do know anything is possible). For sure I’ll be completely out of commission for a few days, and then managing pain for an undetermined length of time after that. What effect will this have on my writing momentum? What about the fog of painkillers? What about the energy required for healing? It’s all a guess.

But as I type this, I feel a sense of rebellion against the “play it safe” stance I’d normally take. I don’t want to be deterred from starting, just because the finish looks so uncertain.

So that’s that.

I’m in for #NaNoWriMo this year. My month might be more like two weeks, but no matter what, starting is the first victory.

Are you in?

Nic and Blue on an excursion during our honeymoon cruise.
Me and Blue on an excursion during our honeymoon cruise.

Dancing Buddha

I’m a salsera. Specifically, a casinera. I’ve been dancing casino-style salsa off and on for maybe 7 years. In the past couple of years, mostly off, but yesterday, I rejoined my fellow casineros!

Dance, like running, is a great teacher. When I take lessons, I often learn much more than the turns being taught. Yesterday I learned about being swayed by self-doubt.

dancing buddha
Jorge and I getting down!

Casino salsa reminds of square dancing in a circle. There’s a caller, and everyone does the called move in sync. Afterwards, we’re told to switch partners and complete another move.

Sidebar on partner dance: if you’re a good follower, you needn’t know the move by heart, but you should still be able to execute it well, provided a good leader is partnering you. I’m a good follower, but I came to the circle with a healthy amount of humility. It was an advanced class and I hadn’t danced in a while. I assumed I’d be a little rusty while the rhythms awakened in my body.

The first move we did together? Disaster. I wasn’t able to follow what was going on very well, and wondered if I shouldn’t switch to the intermediate class despite the fact I’d been advanced for years. We changed partners. Still disastrous. Embarrassed, I apologized to the leader. Surely this was somehow all my fault – I was throwing them off rhythm, anticipating moves instead of following – something. But as we continued to switch partners and I danced with stronger leaders, I was able to execute the moves with no problems.

The instructor, who switched between following and leading, eventually danced with all of the leaders. He realized, with just a couple of exceptions, they were doing a poor job. “I was lost doing that turn. I didn’t know what came next. I wasn’t sure what to do or when to do it.” That was exactly the way I felt! He retaught the move, being strict about pressure, torque and musicality. It helped a great deal, and I was able to dance much better with better leadership. This continued move after move until the weaker leaders began asking me for feedback on how to improve their leading for a given turn.

Now this doesn’t mean I was perfect. I made my standard mistakes (traveling too far from my partner, for instance). But I realized I was still a good dancer, despite my rustiness. I also realized I had allowed my confidence to be shaken. I thought I had a good attitude coming into the circle, but in truth, it wasn’t humility I brought but self-doubt. Our environment is happy to be our mirror, and each partner mirrored my beliefs in my ability. I felt I couldn’t do it, and my environment allowed me to prove myself right.

As soon as it hit me, I chuckled and relaxed into the dancing. Sure, I have room for improvement, but I can approach it with a smile, rather than doubtful heart.

Midpoint check in! #NaBloPoMo #amwriting

all white salsa
Jorge and me getting our salsa on!

Cue the salsa music! Let’s dance!

I’ve made it to the halfway point. I committed to writing 30 blogs in 30 days, and so far so good. I’m amazed and inspired this time around. I’ve wondered why it feels so much easier than August. I think it’s because:

There’s no angst. It’s something I’ve accomplished before, so I began with the foreknowledge I can definitely be successful. Whether stream of consciousness, quick check-ins, or other short entries, I can blog every day.

I’m wiser. I discovered a lot about my writing process, so I realize my morning brilliance may or may not be written (much less published) by afternoon. Sometimes thoughts need time to germinate. Related to that…

I’m more flexible. I thought I would work through some heady topics in August, and I found it too much pressure to write on them publicly Now I write whatever I feel moved to write, which is why I have a blog in the first place!

I was ready. In August it was someone else’s idea to write 30 in 30, and I took up the challenge. This time I was chomping at the bit to do another. In fact, I was planning to start April 1st, when my schedule slowed a bit, but I couldn’t bear waiting another month. I missed the structure and thinking space daily writing creates. I’m glad to have it back.

I’m proud of myself because I’ve taken more chances this time around, and I’ve been consistent, without stress. Regardless of what happens over the next 15-16 days, I love myself for the effort.

Here’s to the second half!