#NaNoWriMo: Day One. Introduction to the Journey

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. All Saints’ Day. #NaNoWriMo. For the past hour, I have been tossing and turning in bed. The past few days have been really hard for me, and I was planning on using NaNoWriMo to work through some of the issues, but things have been coming together in a very exciting way, and so for the past hour, I’ve been eager to start writing.

But before I get too far into my writing, let me provide some of the background. Regular readers of my blog will know that I like to start each month with a blog post beginning “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”. It harkens to a simple childhood time when that innovation was meant to bring good luck for the coming month. In this case, perhaps good luck for the writing, or good luck for the journey the writing is about.

For those of you that don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, people from around the world, I’m not sure how many, hundreds of thousands sounds about right, sit down to write a first draft of a novel. The goal, fifty thousand words in thirty days. Just sit down and write. No editing, just a first pass. You can always go back and edit later.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo various times in the past. A couple times I’ve ‘won’, that is completed fifty thousand words in thirty days. Other times, I’ve hit roadblocks. Still other times, I haven’t even tried because of too many other things going on in my life.

I had not been planning to do NaNoWriMo this year, because of everything else going on in my life. Yet things took some unexpected turns, so I thought maybe I would try a combination of what I tried, unsuccessfully, a few years ago, with various other ideas kicking around.

The idea: Write a stream of consciousness. semi-automatic, semi-autobiographical memoir and reflection on what I’m learning through all of this. I expect during the coming month, I’ll go into much more detail about what ‘all of this’ is really all about. In fact, I was hoping to use NaNoWriMo as a tool to help me figure out some of that.

However, as I lay in bed, ‘all of this’ started to make a lot of sense, a lot more sense than I was ready for, and the shape of my writing may be shifting a little to reflect this.

To reach fifty thousand words, I need to write between sixteen and seventeen hundred words a day. If the words flow well, that isn’t too bad. They’ve been flowing so far, and over the past fifteen minutes I’ve written between four hundred and five hundred words. At this rate, all I really need is an hour of solid writing a day. However, as I’ve learned from other NaNoWriMo efforts, there isn’t always seventeen hundred words worth of thoughts in my mind when I sit down to write, so some days come up short, or take much longer than they should.

Given the nature of my journey, I am not planning on sharing much of this year’s writing on my blog, at least at first. This introduction is an exception, and there may be other exceptions as well. I do expect to share other parts with a limited group of readers. Let me know if you are interested in reading some of these other parts, but don’t be disappointed or take it personally if I say no.

With all of this out of the way, on to day one of NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck.

Moving from #DigiWriMo into Advent

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. DigiWriMo comes to an end and a new adventure begins. I had planned to write much more during Digital Writing Month. I had hoped to be interacting with what people were writing on other blogs. It started off okay, but the other blogs participating in DigiWriMo headed off in discussions of audio and visual content, which wasn’t a topic I was interested in writing about, so I drifted away.

This month is Advent, and I have a few hopes for my digital writing this month. One goal is to write a poem each week tied to the lectionary. I posted my first poem last week. A second goal is to write daily based on the Question A Day Advent calendar. To yesterday’s question, I posted a poem. Today, I will keep my eyes open for who has helped me with something, and write about that. I have one idea in mind, but I’ll see what the day brings.

I would like to bring some of the ideas from DigiWriMo over to my Advent musings. Are others posting blog posts about Advent? Are others following the Question A Day Advent calendar? What else should I be reading or writing about?

#DigiWriMo: The Journey from Paris

In a recent BBC Broadcast, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, talking about the terrorist attacks in Paris asked of God, “Where are you in all this?” To me, the answer seems fairly obvious, Calvary. Yet, I too must admit that I’ve had doubts about my own faith. Calvary and the terrorist attacks in Paris are both beyond my comprehension.

I think this illustrates an important idea about faith. It is often said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, the opposite of faith is certainty, or that the opposite of faith is fear. I do not believe that the terrorists in Paris were people of faith. I particularly, I do not believe they were people of faith in the God of Abraham, like me Jewish, Muslim, and Christian brothers and sisters are. They were people who had given themselves over to hateful certainty aimed at destroying faith by creating fear.

To me, the bigger question is, where is God in the responses to the terrorist attacks. God seems to be particularly missing in the responses of many politicians that claim to be Christian. Echoing my response to Archbishop Welby’s question, I respond that God is in the welcoming of mother giving birth and placing her baby in a manger because there was no room at the Inn; that God is in the flight of a parents taking their baby son to Egypt to protect their son from being killed by a ruthless political leader; that God is in the story told by the son, years later, explained the idea of being a neighbor by talking about a Samaritan man taking care of a victim of violence.

In each of these stories, there is an important theme, that of ‘journey’. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own journey this past year as I’ve struggled with the question of where does God want me to be in all of this. One friend talked about her desire to walk the Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrim’s journey in northern Spain. The Camino has become a metaphor I use for my own journey.

Online, I’ve participated in #Rhizo15 and #DigiWriMo, two explorations into writing and teaching online that often talk about maps, journeys and getting lost and yesterday, I stumbled across an online meditation, in a blog called, Walk With me on Our Journey.

Imagining the unimaginable : That we are walking in the footsteps of our family members who are refugees.

Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, where we celebrate Christ the King. Next week, we start the new liturgical calendar with Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ. We start a new journey from waiting for the incarnation and grieving the crucifixion to celebrating the resurrection. Many, during Holy week will journey through the Stations of the Cross, a journey through grief, a journey to Calvary, a journey to the terrorist attacks of Paris, and a journey that ultimately brings us to Easter.

#DigiWriMo : Paying Attention to Traces

I am distracted. It has been a long week, which isn’t over yet. This morning the sky is still grey and the remaining leaves are still orange brown. I am still going to bed early, not sleeping well, and waking up early. Perhaps it is good that #NaNoWriMo and #DigiWriMo take place in November, after we change back from daylight savings time. I am awake early, which is often my best writing time.

But I’m still distracted. I glance at the time. Do I have enough time to write a good blog post before I need to get in the shower and get on with my day?

I spend a little time reading about William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II. Today is his feast day in the Episcopal Church. I should spend more time reading about him and reading the lessons appointed for this day.

But I also want to read some more of #DigiWriMo. So, I look at twitter and am led to a post by Kate Bowles. On the #DigiWriMo site, she wrote Traces.

We’ve been talking about cartography in #DigiWriMo and I’ve been thinking about Songlines, about the dreaming track. Writing digitally is part of my dream time. It is the pile of stones I leave along my path.

I think of such piles of stones and I think of cairns and burial monuments.

In her blog post, Kate writes about the markers as a way of saying “I was just here. We all were.” I think of the monument friends put up digitally after a friend’s son died. “Isaac was here”. I joined in, both in my writing, and physically. My wife and I drew “Isaac was here” in the sand on Cape Cod on the day of Isaac’s funeral.

As I read Kate’s words, I think of the idea of becoming, by being, of saying something, and by saying it, making it happen. We become connect to others. We pay greater attention. I’m reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World”. Currently, I’m reading the chapter, “The Practice of Paying Attention”.

It is a hard discipline in this over stimulated world, especially for those of us who probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD when we were younger.

I’ve managed to pay enough attention long enough this morning to write this blog post, but probably not enough to give it a good editing. I’ll hop in the shower, and then head off to work, trying to keep my eyes open for traces.

#DigiWriMo : The Mist Lifts

Let’s suppose that in some parallel, there is another #digiwrimo blogger equally dazed by dawn, walking on the other side of the valley. Equally somnambulist in reverie.

- Howard Scott in his blog post, On audience, on place #digiwrimo

As I read his blog post, I started composing a comment as a response, oxygen for his blog as he journeys. But I got to the quote above and thought, I am the parallel. I had been writing about the fog where I live, as a comment to a friend’s Facebook post about fog, and in my own short poem

As the mist lifts,
the remaining leaves
now brownish orange
cling to the trees.

Yes, I too, “too think of blogging as creative catharsis and personal archaeology”. Yet my writing is not academic writing. I write as a social media. Although, today, I’ll go speak at a junior high school career day about being a social media manager.

As to adding comments to the stuff I wrote prior to the 1990s, in 1983, after I had been on the Internet for a year, but not sharing my personal writings there, I’ve started putting some of that online. 1983. I haven’t been back to see if people left comments, and the project got put on hold when we packed up my journals and moved.

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