Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo, You Know?

We are all hunkered down, each in his or her way. Pounding out 1,667 words a day if we're doing NaNoWriMo, or, if we're not doing NaNo, polishing our manuscript for querying, or getting up the nerve to start something new, or any other number of writerly things (including my favorite: lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling until the urge to run away fades). We love it. We love it all. Except when we hate it.

NaNoWriMo is the stuff of people's fantasies (our fantasies) of what it's like to be a writer. And because it's here, it's raising the big questions: Can I be a successful writer? Is it worth all the sacrifices? Am I totally, like, narcissistic and delusional to think I can do this? Am I letting the people I love down by focusing on my own needs? You know the rest.

Whether you've got a crazy schedule and kids to take care of, or simply sometimes ponder the sanity of your choice to be a writer, you need to believe in yourself and your choice. I went looking for answers from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, and found the following beautiful poem. I hope it speaks to you, as it does to me, with love and reassurance. (And don't worry, your kids and spouse will still love you when you resurface and share yourself with them, even more, because you'll be more you.)

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

                                                One day you finally knew
                                                what you had to do, and began,
                                                though the voices around you
                                                kept shouting
                                                their bad advice—
                                                though the whole house
                                                began to tremble
                                                and you felt the old tug 
                                                at your ankles.
                                                "Mend my life!"
                                                each voice cried.
                                                But you didn't stop.
                                                You knew what you had to do,
                                                though the wind pried
                                                with its stiff fingers
                                                at the very foundations,
                                                though their melancholy
                                                was terrible.
                                                It was already late
                                                enough, and a wild night,
                                                and the road full of fallen
                                                branches and stones.
                                                But little by little,
                                                as you left their voices behind,
                                                the stars began to burn
                                                through the sheets of clouds,
                                                and there was a new voice
                                                which you slowly
                                                recognized as your own,
                                                that kept you company
                                                as you strode deeper and deeper
                                                into the world,
                                                determined to do
                                                the only thing you could do—
                                                determined to save
                                                the only life you could save.

Have a great journey, everyone.

~ Linda


  1. Love this! Yes, it definitely spoke to me. I'm also wondering if you were spying on me while I lay on the floor, talking myself out of running away. >.<

  2. Linda, this is a fabulous post. I had never read The Journey, and so thankful I you shared it with us. Ironically I wrote about the inner voice on my Monday Motivation today.

    Irony? of Synchronicity?

    As you know, I have jumped into NaNo. Sunday I updated my first week progress and the crazy schedule I have this week. Then last night I slept 4 hours and awoke to the call of my computer and wrote over 4000 words to keep me on schedule.

    Yes... I can be a writer! Yes... it is worth it! Yes... No... I am not delusional! Yes... the world can deal with passion! Yes... I need a nap!

  3. So glad it spoke to you, too, Kristie. (Shhh, don't tell anyone about my super secret all-encompassing spyglass!)

  4. Linda, I really needed this today. A perfect poem that succinctly describes what so many of us face daily. You've got me thinking now.

  5. Ha! Karlene, congratulations!! And yes, yes, yes to all the things you said, especially the nap!

  6. It is a beautiful poem, isn't it Julie? Made me think of Jamaica Kincaid (the most AMAZING writer), who actually said she became a writer in order to literally save her own life. With your energy and wit, you can do it, Julie.

  7. I just wanted to say thank you for the motivation. I really live the poem, too! (:

  8. You're so welcome, Fida. Thank YOU for dropping by.

  9. What a wonderful, inspiring post Linda. Thank you! This is exactly what I needed after a crazy hectic week.

  10. Crazy and hectic make for exhaustion, Heather! I know you're working really hard on so many cool things, maybe a whole day off to do nothing but read poetry and drink wine would be good?

  11. Hehehe, I like staring at the ceiling too!!!

    It's a lot to juggle, isn't it? And so easy to get beaten down. It's good that there's such a great community of writers to keep each other going. :)

  12. I totally agree, Laura, the writers community is key to sanity, let alone success. Ceiling staring is awesome.

  13. That was lovely. Sometimes we need to find ourselves, first and foremost. Thanks Linda.

  14. So true, Lydia. Finding ourselves, first and foremost as you say, makes all the difference.

  15. Love the poem. So inspiring. Thanks for sharing it. :)

  16. You're welcome, Tina, glad you liked it. Thanks for coming by!