So, here were are… Week 3 of NaNoWriMo.
When I said Week 2 of NaNo was hard, I didn’t think the world would take that as a challenge. But it did. And it hasn’t stopped.
I’m not going to lie, this has been a hard week for me. But, even as I say that, I know I’m not the person it’s been the hardest week for.
One thing I’ve learned from life is that suffering is universal. Not primarily in the sense that everyone suffers, but that all suffering is similar. When we suffer, we suffer the same. Some suffer worse than others, yes, and it’s important we don’t diminish that. But just because we do not suffer as much as they do, does not mean we cannot understand their suffering in some way. We might not understand what it’s like to go through their exact situation, but we can empathize with them because we know suffering ourselves, we have suffered.
For someone, like me, who is HSP and high empathy, this week has been particularly heavy. But, considering the kind of privilege I walk around with as a straight, white, cisgendered male, it’s a burden I feel I must bear. So to all the suffering out there, I see you. You are safe here.
All that to say, in a week like this last week it can make all the sense in the world to stop. When the very world is fighting you, what point is there in continuing?
I had my own moment this week. On Tuesday night. I normally try to focus when I write, minimize social media, all the usual things, but I couldn’t keep myself from periodically checking the numbers. They weren’t good. I know for many it felt like the future was slipping through your fingers. I felt that. And, in the midst of that, I looked at my novel. I still managed to make my word count goal, even with all the distractions. And yet I felt ashamed.
The world was on fire, and here I was… writing.
What’s the point? I heard a voice in my head say.
But, when I heard that voice, the moment it was done talking I heard another.
This is the point, it said. What I was doing, right then and there, was the point. Against the kind of hate and blind ignorance portrayed, this, pure creativity, was exactly what was needed.
I remembered what kind of story I was writing. One about people from all walks of life and backgrounds, people who are different, who have been marginalized, coming together to face something so beyond anything humanity had seen, in the very face of bitterness and mistrust, in a sociopolitical climate not unlike the one I was watching unfold. It is a story that reminds me why scifi is so good.
And, in that moment, where I was almost ready to stop writing, I realized I wanted to finish this book all the more. Because the world needs more stories like it. So, I kept writing that night. I haven’t stopped since.
Now, I don’t want to make anyone feel ashamed for dropping the work this week. That’s not what this is about. We all handle this stuff in different ways, and I know some people needed to step away from the page, from the world, for a while, or they wouldn’t have been able to last in either. I feel you. Take your time.
No, what this is about is what we do when we’re ready to do something. What this is about is how we answer a world of people who seem to have stepped away from truth and grace entirely. How can we go on creating in the face of that?
Because creating is the answer. Creativity, in all its beauty, stands in open defiance of that world. The world that says “we know enough” and “different is always worse.” Against that we can raise our art, our stories, our songs, and our dances. We raise everything in us that does not know a world of black and white but one of infinite color. Against the voice that wants to drown out all differences, that says “God looks like us,” we raise up every facet of humanity and say “No, God looks like these.” Against the hate that seeks to silence, we must cry ever louder. Against the darkness, we raise the light.
Don’t get me wrong. Poetry alone won’t help us. What’s going to fix our situation is going to be a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it will also be this. It will be people choosing to put good out there despite the way the world is, not because of it.
And that’s not an easy belief to hold on to. This week has tested my faith in everything, but especially in this. Despite everything I’ve been struggling with, I’ve still managed to keep up with the words. And everyone has been complementing me on my dedication, but I have to admit I feel ashamed to be good at something that is a.) not paying the bills and b.) not doing good for anyone but me.
But it is doing good. I believe it will, one day. I know what it’s like to put a book out in the world, and I know this one belongs out there. I don’t know how yet, but I know there’s a way. And this week reminded me of what I’m up against, and why I need to finish this book.
This week was hard. I’m not trying to diminish that. And however long you need to take to recover, take it. So long as you stay with us. I know how close giving up is. I know how much I’ve wished I could reach into the lives of the people I care about and rip all this off of them. I wish you didn’t have to go with through it.
But I know we can get out of it. I believe that. Not all the time, every day, but I believe it. For you, for me, for us. What we are doing now seems small, yes. But that’s the idea. That’s what NaNo has taught me year-after-year. Do the small every day, and it adds up.
It’s just like hb says: “Do small things. On repeat. And think about others.”
If we can figure out how to do that we can do anything. We can change the world.
Whether you have stayed with the #Nanolounge challenge or not, I am so proud of all of you. This has been some year, this has been some month. But I am more convinced than ever how much we need this. Not even just the words, but the community. This is how we help each other.
Be good, Nano’s.