Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Writing + Composting

Did you know writing requires composting? I smiled when I read this little excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's book, because we have recently started composting for the first time. I like to think the decisions we make to cultivate something good in our lives inspire other decisions and other areas of life. Composting is new to us, but we are inspired by the beautiful idea of turning what's thrown away into something rich. And guess what? Now I can use this concept in my writing.
"Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this ‘composting.’ Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil.” [Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down The Bones"]
Some of you writers may know that this month is #NaNoWriMo, or in other words, National Novel Writing Month. Hundreds of thousands of people on all parts of the writing spectrum commit to make themselves creative and miserable at the same time, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It's a commitment that stems from the idea that the world needs your novel, and that you can - and should - get your ideas on paper for that story you've been turning over in your head for months or even years. Most people who write a novel in a month will tell you that the 50,000 words are pretty awful by the time you finish, and that your first draft is much more of a skeleton of a manuscript than an actual novel. Nevertheless, there are inspiring stories of people who publish their NaNo novels 15 or so drafts later, or several years later. A big chunk of the writer community celebrates this initiative because it gets people writing; it teaches the value of creative writing every day, and it inspires people to get better at their writing through daily practice. How inspired would you be to continue working on a 250 page manuscript, even if the writing was pretty "eh." I'd like to think that no matter how your manuscript turns out, 50,000 words is something to be proud of. Then the revisions come!

Anyway, I thought about starting this month for like a nano second (see what I did there?) but decided that powering through this month was not the best idea. It was hard to say no, especially when there are so many inspiring accountability partners out there (writing buddies), but there are countless things going on this month that need to be a priority, including lots of travel. Sometimes you have to learn how to say no for your own health, marriage, sanity and whatever else is important to you. That being said, I still think it's an excellent idea and it has definitely motivated me to make my own writing deadlines. As a writer by trade, I can pump out 7,000 words a day, so I know it's possible. 

Even though I'm not participating this month, there's something magical about November and I thoroughly enjoy the daily word counts popping up all over the Internet. Even though I will not be writing a 50,000 word manuscript this month, I'm excited to at least have a story in the mix for the future and I plan to push myself a little harder with my creative writing (even if it's not 1,667 words a day), cheering on my other writer friends at the side lines!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? If so, you're my hero and you can do it! 

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"Pleasant words are [like] honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24