How writing helped me
I had married my soul-mate. Ours was a love story that had prevailed against all odds. It took me seven years and two childbirths to realize that I’d been kidding myself. Taking my husband down from the pedestal I’d placed him on, had been like giving myself an amputation, keeping the anesthesia on hold. Life began spiraling out of control and yet, knowing I had two children to stanch the blood flow, I stayed strong.
I stayed strong, don’t we all? I put on the “clinical detachment” of the professional and soldiered on. Yet in my head were all these whirling thoughts of love (of soul-mates!), marriage (never again!), sex (never again?), children (maybe I shouldn’t deprive them of a father?) and life (what’s the point?). There were even those dark days when all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and crawl back into my crappy marriage (surely he’d take me back?), feminism be damned.
That’s when I began scribbling down words for what I was feeling. At first it was difficult. But then I discovered that writing streamlined my thoughts. I jotted down things I’d never really considered before, even some things I never really knew about myself. It wasn’t always calming; writing can be draining, exhausting, and an addiction. But writing was always fulfilling, usually exhilarating and sometimes, even fun. It helped me come to terms with emotionally self-destructive loops of mine. And then I discovered NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month gala that happens every year in November. It was love at first write.
I didn’t reach the goal of 50k words in my maiden venture into NaNoWriMo, but that didn’t stop me from feeling immensely satisfied with what I had managed to put down on paper. I was hooked.
This is the kind of thing that appeals to a very particular kind of “crazy”. I have also come to realize that we single parents are an (please do correct me if I’m wrong) “invisible demographic”, which means most people don’t know we exist or if they do, they look at us as if we are from an alien species. The “smug married” (as Helen Fielding-refer to her groundbreaking work “Bridget Jones’ diary” in case you wish to know her better- called them) simply can’t understand how we single parents survive. And yet we do. Against all odds. We do.
So may I present then, my brethren, my top five reasons for participating in NaNoWriMo:
- Your voice is important. Its not necessary that anyone else hears this voice. But it is important. Penning down what goes in your mind, clarifies this voice to yourself first.
- You discover stuff about yourself you never knew before. Creative writing is in equal parts “free flow of thoughts” (where you use your right brain) and then “organizing” the thoughts you put on paper (left brain terrain). It needs a bit of effort but mostly to sit yourself down, because once you let the free flow begin, there really is no stopping you.
- You gain new buddies, fellow crazies (that’s in my case, I’m sure you will meet the sane, sophisticated lot) There are some really inspirational writers who were able to write out their grief, wade through times in their life when problems seemed insurmountable. Plus let’s face it, writers (especially amateur writers) are also invisible statistics.
- It feels good to write out what you hadn’t actually said. Or done. Its fun to create story lines and plots – albeit the plot holes- where we can create scenes and situations which go exactly as planned. You are the creator and the characters are entirely at your mercy. Imagine. Pretty heady considering real life is usually careening out of (my) control. The illusion (or delusion, as the case may be) of control is appealing, to say the least.
- What happens in NaNoWriMo, stays in NaNoWriMo.You don’t have to show your work to another soul. You don’t ever have to look at what was written during those 30 days of mad, scribbling(or typing) frenzy. You don’t ever have to admit that you are a WriMo. Just write. For the love of writing.
a) For those who felt this is crazy and so not for me, please check out nanowrimo.org for a better, more wholesome picture of what I so badly described
b) For those who felt I was talking to them: Yes, you’re right, I am talking to you, please go to the nanowrimo.org page and sign up to get started. Cheers!