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Nanowrimo 2013 Journal – Days 9 to 12

on November 12, 2013

Saturday, 9 November. 12.46 PM.

Today started well – we had a belated birthday party for one of the kids. She was ill on her actual birthday. We took her rollerskating at a local rollerama with some friends. It was an earlier than usual Saturday morning wake-up, though.

Last night was my fortnightly Friday volunteer work, too, where I am sort of like a support role in a youth mentoring programme for hundreds of local teenagers. Most of the support I do is in the form of just hanging around. Sometimes I am a sounding board for the more active leaders. Most of the programme’s leaders are in their twenties, so many of the *mature* helpers (like me, being 31, almost 32, and like totally so grown up) are there to just provide back up. I love it.

I used to be more actively involved as a leader, mentoring about a dozen girls (many of whom are now variously finishing uni, getting married, starting careers), and there’s a definite sense of joy that comes from seeing kids you’ve mentored through high school grow up into intelligent, successful and helpful adults who turn around and themselves become active community volunteers.

Volunteering – get on it. Meeting people, doing something practical for others with no expectation you’re going to get anything in return, but instead gaining so much, like incredible friends and self-confidence and practical skills in the process, is so good. As long as it doesn’t consume every aspect of your free time, the act of serving your community can become its own kind of refreshing.

So, after last night and this morning I’m feeling pretty tired. I should be writing right now. Quite frankly, I just want to play video games.

Yet, as tiring as social activity can be – especially for someone whose personality leans more on the introvert side of human experience – it breaks up the routine. I could beat myself up for going out instead of trying to attain my word count, but I won’t. Because, in the end, if life isn’t about loving other people in a practical sense, all the writing I could do and all the Facebook ranting about whatever social issue I’m on about at any time* is just noise. It’s enjoyable noise, and it has its own place, but it doesn’t compare to the tangible, real benefit of speaking into the lives of others and telling them that they’re worthwhile, significant humans whose life has purpose. And so, this little blog journal entry hasn’t been about writing so much as what motivates me to get out of bed on a daily basis. I’ve been doing this volunteering gig for years now, and in different capacities, but the biggest joys, for me, come when I can tell someone (particularly playing the big sister or Aunty role to teenagers, because many don’t hear it enough from what can be a cruel and harsh world) that there are people who care, that there are people who won’t bully them, there are people who understand that not everyone can be an A+ student, that life exists and can have meaning even after a failed exam or a messy break up, or – even better! – that having a boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t necessary to be a valid and complete human being.

So, right at this moment, feeling my age a bit, I could have chosen to spend a quiet night-in last night pouring myself into writing. I did want to write. Last time I put down my work in progress I felt excited about the story and where it was at and I wanted to know what happens next. Instead, I chose to put it down, emerge from my cave, and give a few hours back to the community that supports me. I highly recommend it.

*My social media rants include, but are not limited to, occasional laments on the purity of the Star Wars story canon (because I care that they have chopped and changed Darth Maul’s character so many times… Sometimes literally chopping him… In half).

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Screenshot of my progress, 9 Nov. 2013. One fun thing with Nanowrimo is watching the word count climb and getting a pretty graph. I’m behind, but steadily progressing.

Saturday, 9 November. 10.04 PM.

Why, oh why, did I think playing video games for two hours today was a good idea? This is the first moment I’ve had to sit down and WRITE, for the love of your sanity, woman,  WRITE! Oh no… She’s referring to herself in the third person…

Parked on the couch. Drink in one hand. Netbook computer in the other hand. Some Finnish metal music playing in the background – Amorphis. What is it with Finland, anyway? Why do they produce so many amazing heavy metal bands? This past year I saw Finnish artists Apocalyptica and Ensiferum playing concerts in Melbourne, Australia. Oh, and I love Finnish accents, too. One country with so much awesome. I should go there one day.  I like Swedish metal, too.

Just put the words “folk” and “metal” and “viking” together. And… I’m talking music now. This is not writing a novel.

Good morrow, Procrastination Station. I’d better turn the internet connection off now, lest I don’t write a single word in my manuscript and instead spend an evening waxing poetic about the merits of Wintersun and Norther.

Sunday, 10 November 2013. 5.32 PM.

It’s all well and good to plan to write, and I had two hours of writing time blocked out today while the rest of the family attended a picnic. But there are things in life that can’t be predicted. Like that one of the neighbours is going to use that precious writing time to trespass on your property and start cutting down your trees and you’re going to have to talk to him, and tell him that while you understand he’s ticked off about the damage they’re causing to the fence, he is violating our privacy and could’ve at least asked permission first, and then you’ll spend the next several hours feeling so horrible about the whole situation, and resenting everyone that ever told you that moving to the suburbs would be great and so much better than the country with its wide open spaces and fresh air and silence, so that something like writing the Great Australian Novel is easier said than done.

It’s all sorted… for now… I’m sitting on 11,627 words. Ideally, by the end of today, I’ll have 16,666 words to stay on-par in NaNoWriMo. I don’t know how realistic it is for me to expect to achieve that.

Cf. earlier blog post about how I miss the country and find it hard to be creative in this place…

Monday, 11 November. 12.44 PM.

For reasons I can’t quite explain, and despite my best intentions, a typical Monday will involve me taking a very long time to wake up. I have spent a good portion of the day staring at social media. I don’t think I am a better, more fulfilled human being as a result. But I do appreciate social media’s ability to keep me in touch with extended family. Just today I came across a page connecting people who are descendants of my grandmother’s great-great-great-great not sure how many “greats”) grandparents, who were among the pioneering English settlers of south-eastern Australia, in the 1830s.  Their dedicated descendants have maintained detailed records of the family tree. I like the sense of belonging that comes from being a member of families that have documented their history.

I wish Mondays weren’t such slow going. I think I just need some recovery time after the hectic weekends!

On another note, today is Remembrance Day in Australia. Like many Aussies, I had a minute’s silence at 11 AM to reflect on the sacrifices of past and current generations who went to war against the evil of their days.  I also take this time to imagine a future in which there will be no wars, and that peace and reconciliation will reign, and every tear will be wiped away. Some of my ancestors went to war, to fight for the greater good. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to hear the reports of the WWII Holocaust, for example, without feeling compelled to do something to help. I recognise and applaud the courage off those who fought for the safety of their nations.

I also believe, and hope, that in the end, true peace is the greatest good. It is not peace wrested from the unwilling at the end of a gun, it is a peace that transcends understanding and that is carried by the spiritual force of forgiveness and love. We see this active pacifism modelled historically in the lives of such people as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

After all that, it’s time to write! Don’t get me started on this stuff…

Current word count: 12,498 words.

Tuesday, 12 November. 8.58 PM.

Current word count: 15,834 Words.

My main characters have finally met each other. It’s interesting writing characters. Just when I think that they’re being a bit  predictable, one of them decides she is scared of the other character. It’s like they take on a life of their own, sometimes, and I’m just there for the ride.

In other news, typing so much hurts my wrists. And I really need to get away from social media and video games. They aren’t helping at all!

My NaNoWriMo Profile

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My 2013 NaNoWriMo Journal

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