The month before I turned 50 years old, after a casual conversation about writing with a dear friend, I decided to participate in the camp version of National Novel Writing Month. I had long cherished the idea of writing a novel (or really anything, for that matter!), and this seemed like a great way to propel myself into it. The concept of National Novel Writing Month is fairly simple. You write 50,000 words of a novel in one month … with a bunch of other people doing the same thing at the same time. The pace is fast. You really have to work hard to silence your inner editor, and you have permission to write badly. The point is just to get it all out. I thought that perhaps that attitude would help me barrel past all the things that have stopped me from writing over the years. There wouldn’t be time to second guess myself into nothingness.
And it actually did work. I wrote 50,000 words of a real novel, and I felt powerful. I was finally a WRITER! Over the next couple of years, I wrote a world bible for my imagined trilogy, and drafted (very roughly) two other novels in that series of stories. Each project got a little harder and slower, and I barely slogged through the last one. I slowly ground to a halt.
That was nearly three years ago. Although I’ve tried to tempt myself with brand new projects, I have not recovered, and have felt that I can no longer legitimately call myself “Writer”.
But even after all of this, my desire to write has not gone away. It has rarely left me throughout my entire conscious life, despite my best efforts to distract myself from it. The desire to create simmers inside me, bubbling to the surface on a regular basis.
I recently read a quote from the poet, Mary Oliver, that really spoke to me… in a very loud voice.
The most regretful people on earth, are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
I do not intend to live or die as one of the most regretful people on earth.
My yoga teacher often invites us to set an intention for our practice. It seems to me to be a very gentle way of signaling to God, to the universe, to yourself what you need and desire in the hour that lies ahead. There is no goal tracking or judgment about success or failure at the end of the practice. There is just awareness of something deep inside that is speaking to you in that period of time. And once you have floated that intention out there, you do the practice with a healthy separation from worry about the outcome.
That is what I am doing here. I am floating an intention out into the universe. It is my intention to claim my space as a creative being… ultimately a writer.