In the Midst of Chaos, the NaNoWriMo Beacon Shines.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2017 Participant

I’ve been motivationally paralyzed about my writing for weeks that slipped into months and now threaten to become a year or more.  It’s frightening to stay away from my works in progress for so long, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the chaos that my country’s government has become.

My motivation hasn’t been sapped across the board, though.  


I eagerly search for rallies, protests, and organizational meetings to attend.  I write letters.  I make phone calls.  I hope and to some extent, I believe that I make a difference, that the country is a little better for my efforts.  I believe that I, one person in a sea of others doing similar things, can bring to bear enough pressure on the regressive, repressive forces in this country to divert the current headlong course toward the dismantlement of almost everything socially progressive from the New Deal onward.

The search and efforts take time, but hardly my every waking hour. What do I do with the rest of my time?  I read news sites obsessively, looking for new hopes and new outrages.  I follow every twist and turn of the  Americo-Russian Kompromat scandals, the existential threats to the Affordable Care Act, the horrifying and cruel White House budget proposal, the gratuitous insults of commission and omission to our longtime allies and erstwhile fellow travelers toward a more sane and kind world.  I scan the horizon for new threats to those I love, and I worry about the millions just like them all over the country.

And I feel it is this use of my time that has become problematic if it weren’t problematic from the start.

But, my life since January 20, 2017 hasn’t all been reading and handwringing about the news.  I’ve proofread two novels for other writers since the inauguration.  Both tasks were hardly tasks at all.  I enjoyed reading the stories and found it fairly easy to run parallel tracks in my mind, one engrossed in the story, and one studying it critically.  And best of all, while I proofread, I managed to unplug almost completely from the news.  And in the not-yet-published writings of published novelists, I finally found interest in getting back to my own stories.

I’m cautious.  I am afraid that my writer self could easily be swamped and capsized by my political self once again.  I am afraid that biting off too much at once creatively could make me reluctant to do anything at all.

And like a beacon through the fog, the April Camp NaNoWriMo shines.  A beacon, or the captivating call of sirens luring me toward the rocks if I plunge headlong with overzealous goals.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I resolved to participate.  Today, I cautiously plan how I’ll tackle what I hope will be my final revision of The Gideon Effect.

I’m optimistic and yet fearful.  If I fail, how much more difficult will it be to gather the energy to try again?

I better not fail.

9 thoughts on “In the Midst of Chaos, the NaNoWriMo Beacon Shines.”

  1. “I am afraid that my writer self could easily be swamped and capsized by my political self once again.” This. So much this. I can’t thank you enough for articulating how I’ve been feeling since election day in November. I feel so sapped and hopeless, yet overwhelmed by the fierce need to resist and make a difference, it’s like I have nothing left for writing. This was so therapeutic to read, thank you! And thank you for taking an active part in trying to restore sanity and empathy and compassion to our country!! Here’s hoping NaNoWriMo restores some of our creative lifeforce!

    1. Thank you for replying and sharing a little of your own struggles, Christina! When I started writing this blog entry, I had no idea if the political situation takes a similar toll on other writers. In my writer groups, people have for the most part stopped talking about how they’re dealing with the current political realities. Given that such discussions usually turn into political wrangling among people with conflicting beliefs and aspirations, I understand the reluctance, but it has left me with the feeling that everyone else has moved on, found a healthy balance, and carried on with their writing projects.

      I don’t feel quite so alone and left behind, after reading your comments.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll confess that if I didn’t have plans to turn writing into an income stream within the year, I wouldn’t be motivated–at least not in this stage of my life while I still have a youngster in the nest and a household to run. I used to make a full time job out of all that. And it’s worthy work. But some upcoming changes in our family’s needs have spurred me on. The environment and climate change have kept me motivated too, not to mention that I don’t want to get a real job. 🙂

    The truth is that I’ve been amazed at how you’ve kept your writing going–even with the recent break, if you can call it that. I’m glad you’re taking the plunge to work on your final revision. Fear can be a powerful motivator, but I also encourage you to embrace the possibility of failure–if it happens, to see it as a learning experience that propels you forward. I had to come to terms with that when working on my freelance mentor project. What if, after all that work, they had rejected my story? At times, the fear of failure cast an icy spell on me, and I would completely freeze. In my mind, there was a lot at stake.

    I’m wishing you the best and genuinely pulling for you. Please don’t let what’s happening in the world take away a valuable gift–your contribution to the written word.

  3. Laura, our parallel, but different relationships with the written word have been an inspiration to me. I often think about your plans and progress when I think about updating this blog. And I think about updating the blog much more than I actually write for it, lately. I have so many almost articulate hopes and fears about our country right now. I keep thinking I’ll either be able to find words for them, or I’ll channel the bundle of almost-writing energy into another writing project. So far, it hasn’t happened.

    Your progress really does inspire me. For me right now, any real-life pressure to get things done seems to do more harm than good. That’s the main reason I’ve hesitated to commit to Camp Nano in April.

    1. Then, it sounds like you need to listen to that and do what’s best for you. And just for the record, many of my blog posts are pretty awful and need editing. I see a lot of advantages to pacing yourself and not blogging or writing frantically, which is kind of what I’ve done. I’ve had to learn to keep pushing, but drop the “frantic.” I guess the various stages in our lives ask for different responses.

      Above all else, I hope you’ll be good to yourself because it sounds like that’s what you need most. We have a lot of heart wrenching conversations at our house about the state of affairs, also. And I have family members who would be harmed by so many of our governments proposals, if they’re approved. I joke about building a camouflaged house into the hills near our house and hiding out with the cows. I’ve rambled on enough, but just so you know, I’m pulling for you to do what’s best for you. I was thrilled to see this update in my inbox, today! I really enjoy hearing your thoughts.

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