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Nanowrimo Journal Day 20

on November 21, 2013

(Thanks to my using the scheduled posting feature, my previous entry in my nano journal for days 17 to 20 accidentally didn’t have day 20 included! So here it is, now. I wrote this when I didn’t have a wi-fi connection, so never sent it to the WordPress.Com site in time.)

Wednesday 20 November. 11.40 AM.

This morning started in a less than ideal fashion. Trying to manage the problems caused when one of your kids gets bullied isn’t easy, and all I can say on that is that we’re taking all reasonable steps to make sure things don’t get any worse. After dropping said child off at school with the words, “Only two weeks to go before you don’t have to worry about this anymore,” and praying that things don’t get any worse, I decided to go for a walk to clear my headspace a bit. The pollen aggravated my allergies, though, and then it rained on me. That’s okay, I thought, I will redeem the morning by getting as much writing done as possible when I get home.

I arrived home to see the neighbours had placed, “Warning, Pest Control Spraying in Progress” signs out the front of their place. The air reeked of the chemicals and I had to rush around shutting windows. Apparently the three hours I had blocked out on my calendar today for writing time would not go ahead as planned, in my usual spot outdoors. A haze of toxic chemicals in the air doesn’t go down too well at the best of times. Add to that the noisy equipment and blaring radio the pest control people were using, and I had to get out of there.

I’ll admit it. I felt pretty despondent and miserable. It seems like there’s always something standing in the way of me getting some space and quiet to write. And it’s usually the neighbours. It’s not just a one-off inconvenience. It’s most days. I start feeling angry at the world and angry at life. I feel like my ambitions are small: I just need some quiet, regular bouts of peaceful solitude, a good community, and a place where I can hear my thoughts and work my creativity. Yet, since I moved to the suburbs eight years ago, it’s as if someone flicked the “off” switch on my creative abilities. I struggled through uni while living here, where previously I’d been a high-achieving student without too much effort (but I did learn the important art of perseverance as a result!), always battling the distractions and noise.

I have to battle for the psychological and emotional health of myself and my family. I have to battle the sense of bitterness that tries to take root in my heart when I think of how my life has turned out. I struggle with the desire to blame others for my problems, too. I have learned many hard lessons in the last few years, about managing my own head space. I have reached a point in life where I realise that many of my life choices had more to do with me trying to please other people’s expectations, rather than choosing the life I want.

It’s not all bad, though. I managed to redeem the morning. I took my netbook computer to the nearby shopping centre food court – it’s always quiet here in the mornings. I bought a take away coffee and when they scanned my customer card, I’d earned enough points to get a free coffee. It’s my birthday soon, too, and I remembered that I had a store voucher that would get me a 30% discount off the journal I want to buy as a present to myself. I sipped my coffee and churned out 1,000 words in one hour.

There is always potential for small victories, even among the negative spaces in life.

I might be frustrated with the big picture, but it’s the little things, like doing something creative for myself, with potentially no benefit or use to anyone except myself, where I can look at the day and say it wasn’t wasted. And that’s a huge lesson I’m learning in life: when I am motivated out of a desire to make other people happy and fulfil their expectations, I am not living out of my own life and purposes and talents. I become a shell of  myself. And this is not some, “I’m just me so deal with it” thing, because I consider that to be an immature response to the world. This is something else, more balanced, more subtle. It is in realising that I don’t have to throw out everything that makes me unique for the sake of people who never really wanted to get to know me. It is in learning to say, “No,” in seeing guilt trips and manipulation for what they are, and for understanding that as I become more myself, I free others around me to be themselves, too.

How does this tie into NaNoWriMo? Well, the experience of choosing to write for the sheer joy of writing itself, with no expectation that it will mean anything to anyone but myself, is like reclaiming some of my own territory. It’s saying, “This is not going to please anyone except myself, but it’s important to me, so I’m going to fight for it.” It’s about carving out space and saying “No” to things that, as noble as they may be, aren’t vitally necessary to me. It’s learning that I can’t possibly be expected to be everything to everyone around me. I already do three nights a month, at least, of volunteer work. I seek to maintain healthy friendships with others, taking time out to focus on them. It’s not like I’ve isolated myself. There are no excuses and no defensive postures necessary to explain myself. I am living my own life the way I choose. Part of that means that I need time out to write, to create, and to practice my arts. It means shutting out the negative voices that are critical for criticism’s sake – though, of course, I listen to constructive criticism from those people who have shown themselves to actually care about me, who are able to communicate to me areas of my life that need work without condemning me (and such is a big benefit to me of belonging to a healthy, liberating religious/spiritual community and having great friends from different parts of my life).

I don’t want to type out my life story here, as I’m trying to craft my little sci-fi tale. But it’s funny how this year’s short-term projects like NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo back in April opened my eyes to the fact that if I decide I want to write and create for no one but myself, in the context of the rest of my varied and busy life, it’s actually very healthy and energising and freeing to me. And in the end, that makes me a more complete human who’s going to be more healthy, energising and freeing in the way I treat others. Peace.

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