Sunday, November 03, 2013

Just a little thought -

Third day, and I'm sharing a tip I've seen a few other places, but I've got a different reasoning, so I figure it's fair game.

When I mentioned on Tumblr that I was participating in NaNoWriMo, a couple of people contacted me to give encouragement, ask what I was planning to write, etc.  Given that most of what I post there is chronic illness/spoonie related, it will come as no surprise that many of these private messages came from other spoonies. During one of these conversations I mentioned that I was going to try to front-load as much writing as I could manage in the first week or so, because I will - without a doubt - 1) have low/no spoon days; 2) get sick at some point (to varying degrees of sickness, but hopefully nothing serious; 3) want to spend time doing something other than write - like eat on Thanksgiving, or spend some time with either of my November birthday-girl sisters; 4) have days when writing is just not happening or other things are much more interesting and words are stupid; or 5) days when you have other commitments and just don't see how to squeeze some writing in.

Now, I've seen this tip in relation to issues #3-5 - I won't be the only NaNo participant planning on some turkey and pumpkin pie this month, and a lot of other participants will have a ton of commitments that I do not - full-time/part-time jobs, families that they have to care for every day, travel schedules, kids hockey games they have to sit and watch and freeze at, whatever. And I'm sure we will all be faced with a day when, as happened to me last November, the sum total of our (usable) words will be the ones that are the main characters names - everything else will be a whole bunch of nonsense. (Countable nonsense, as far as word count goes, sure; but I always felt like it was almost cheating if I knew that it would never actually end up anywhere near the finished project.  But that's my inner editor at play, and she's supposed to be on vacation this month.)

But I haven't seen a lot of discussion surround issues 1 & 2, and I realize that for most NaNo participants, they won't come into play: A low energy day here or there for a non-chronically ill person, is not unheard of, certainly, but ... its a different kind of energy when you start talking about spoons.  On a day when I have no spoons, I don't mean that I might be too exhausted to write - I mean that I would (most likely) be too exhausted to eat. To take my meds. To roll from one side of the bed to another. To hold a pencil, or open up the laptop cover, let alone lift the thing that suddenly weighs more than 900lbs. To think through the brain fog enough to remember to brush my teeth after breakfast, instead of before. To try and remember if I took those pills already or if I just pictured taking them (which is why I have a whole pill system, but that's another post).

So writing anything legible or interesting, or valid (in my own opinion) on those days? Even if I keep to the daily schedule that everybody recommends, or force myself to sit in front of the computer during what is my usual writing time? It's simply not an option.  And that's ok: it's not a huge deal.  It is a knowable obstacle for me, because I have been doing this for a long time.

As for #2 and the likelihood that I will fall ill this month? Today is the 3rd of November - yesterday  I visited with three children under the age of 10, and a newborn, and some adults. Today I can't move. It is a very high pain day; and it is possible that it could turn up to flare levels, but I'm hoping it doesn't. Pain is (for the most part) something I can write through (depending) - but if those little lovely ragamuffins also brought me some nice germs, or if my visit to the hospital tomorrow where people are apparently incapable of not coughing on me results in my next bout of strep or the flu, or - god forbid - something more serious; well then, all writing bets are off. It'll be a constant game of who knows.

Which is basically how it's going to be anyways, for all of us: a giant game of "Am I going to write the words today?" "Am I going to make the daily/weekly/monthly goal?" "Can I shut my inner editor up long enough to reach 50,000 words?" - We're all in a limbo here, and that's part of the fun.

But if there's anything I learned in the years of trying to complete college and deal with chronic illness at the same time, it's to get as far ahead on the syllabus as you possibly can, while you can. So, if I can write an extra thousand words today, I'm going to. So that I'll have that little cushion there for tomorrow, if I need it. 

Because, even though the goal is to write everysingleday, and even though I am remembering that the more I write the more I want to write, November is not a month set apart from the rest of my life - it is not going to be some magical oasis of health and vitality and peace and calm and quiet, no matter how much I may wish it so.

So, that's my (completely unoriginal) piece of advice to all you other NaNo writers (and goddamn it, we are all writers!); Spoonies and non-spoonies alike, if you can - give yourself a little cushion, for the hard days, so you'll have something to fall back on.

Ahead, to day 4.

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