It’s been many months since my last post. Sometimes life just gets busy with ‘stuff.’ I’m getting back on track by taking advantage of the National Novel Writing Month – a challenge to write 50,000 words in ‘draft mode’ during the month of November.
I’m not quite sure why I decided to take the challenge this year. I’ve a number of writer friends who have taken the challenge in previous years. Some of them do it every year. They always encourage me to give it a try! I’m usually not motivated by a ‘challenge.’ Even more ambiguous is the fact that I’m not writing a novel. But some deep down desire seemed to press me forward.
Over the last year – my 70th – I’ve been sorting, purging and simplifying. The popular word is minimalism. One of my favorite sites is Joshua Becker on Becoming Minimalist. I love his writing style and his philosophy. Back to me, part of aging often results in a reassessing of one’s life. Most of us feel we tried our best and hope that we’ve left something of value whether it be our family relationships, our work, or maybe a cause we supported with our time and our money.
I’ve lived a rather colorful life at times. Friends have often said that I should ‘write that story.’ Now I certainly don’t think I’m particularly unique. But I do have some funny stories. As I was purging and sorting, something tugged at me to at least create a rough draft. That’s what precipitated the decision to try the writing challenge. I wasn’t writing a novel, but I could use the month of November to get my draft started. I figured I could at least get the words and memories out of my head. If I did nothing at all with the draft, it would be okay. No weighty challenge other than 50,000 words before the end of the month.
Amazingly, I have 41,000 words and it’s only November 19th! But the biggest surprise was the connection between my purging/minimalism and the timing of the challenge. At one point, I was trying to clarify a date regarding my first visit with Gordon Parks. Years were a bit jumbled in my memory. I pulled the two stationery boxes of papers off the shelf to look quickly for this information. Thanks to the latest purging, I easily found several folders that included letters and writings that took me back over 25 years!
I was stunned at how quickly memories rushed into my consciousness as if they had happened yesterday. The writing flowed like a swiftly moving stream. My reduction of stuff simplified the search for a piece of information. The cleaner desk offered the space to sit down and write. The challenge offered a time frame giving me a beginning and an end. It was serendipity!
There is no doubt that I’ll complete the 50,000 words. There’s a lot of doubt as to whether I’ll do anything with those words. But at least they’ll be out of my head. I’ll have some space to try a new challenge if I am so inclined. But the sorting, purging, simplifying of my living space has opened a window offering a fresh breeze. It’s as though I’ve completed the past and can begin to create. What that means to someone who has turned 70? I’m not certain yet.
I’ll keep you posted!