It was bound to happen – I missed a day of NaBloPoMo. I realized, about 4 o’clock this morning, after I woke to nurse Gus yet again and was rocking him back to sleep, that I had forgotten to blog. In all the cooking, and the playing, the cleaning and the phone calls, the blog had slipped completely out of my head.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I decided. Yes, the challenge of NaBloPoMo is to blog everyday, but if there’s a day to skip, it’s probably the holiday, with my family gathered around me and Best in Show on TV, and my belly full of – seriously – the best turkey we have ever made. Ever.
We woke up this morning and decided it was time to brainstorm Christmas gifts. This really seems like a season of anticipation – decorate, shop, wrap. Think about people. Send cards. Make cookies to deliver to friends.
In a lot of ways, NaBloPoMo centers on anticipation. Each day, I mine each moment for something to blog about. That sandwich was pretty good, maybe I could blog about it, I’ll think. Or I read something interesting, so maybe I can blog about that. Even ohmygoodLord, how many times have I been spit up on today? I can’t remember. I literally have no idea. Ooh – maybe I’ll blog about that.
The banal, the (maybe? hopefully?) interesting, it all rubs up against each other, ever in anticipation of me needing to blog about something.
So as I rocked Gus and determined that I was okay with having missed a day of blogging, I decided the better use of my time was to take a moment and think about why I did this in the first place. Partly it was because I was sad not to be doing NaNoWriMo, sad that I’m not back to writing fiction yet. But even more, it was because I missed writing anything. I needed a daily writing practice again. In getting back to work, in proving to myself that yes – even with a baby, even with travel, even with current events kicking my butt, even with holidays – I can put my butt in a chair and write.
That’s no small thing. A month ago, I thought it was impossible.
My favorite musical is Into the Woods (stage version, though the Disney remake is solid enough). I always really loved Cinderella’s song “On the Steps of the Palace,” when the Prince has spread pitch on the palace stairs and she has lost her shoes in it. The moment rings so true, feels so familiar, that turning over, again and again, all of the possibilities, the worries, the angst in making her “first big decision.” She’s wondering what will happen with every choice she makes – “stay and be caught” or “pry up her shoes.”
When I first got pregnant, Amanda and I took walks around our neighborhood, and I told her how worried I was that after the baby came, I wouldn’t write anymore. I was trying to anticipate the way life would be once the baby was here. I’ve spoken before of the daydream that I would put the baby in a sling over my heart and write like I always had. But I also carried with me a vision of all my manuscripts, shoved in a box, collecting dust. Amanda reminded me to be reasonable in my expectations, to wait and see, to be patient – and I have tried – but the fear sat on my heart, weighing in on every conversation, every book I read, every moment when I thought “I can write,” and slept instead.
I gave myself goals – I’ll start writing again six weeks later. I’ll start writing again two months later. I’ll start writing again in 2017.
NaBloPoMo has helped me get back to it. Gone is the anticipation – the worry, the fear. I’ve shown up, very nearly everyday, and I’ve written. It hasn’t always been good – it’s seldom met my standards – but I’ve shown up. I’ve done the work. The month isn’t over, but I now know that in December, in the new year, in all the years to come, that the engine has been started. The spell is broken. I’ve pried up my shoes and darted off into the woods. And that feels pretty good.