Monday, October 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo and a Bunch of Whining



Dare I?



It hasn't been an easy couple of months at our home. Morning sickness faded into a sudden, intense lactose intolerance that took way too long to pinpoint... which faded into a sudden, intense heartburn that registers as intense nausea.



All I can say is that for someone who is nauseous all day long I sure can pack on the pounds.



Sigh.



A woman's body prepares for any eventuality during her pregnancy, and a significant portion of expected weight gain is allotted as "maternal fat and nutrient stores."



Doesn't that sound fancy?



My body has apparently decided to outfit itself for some kind of famine of biblical proportions.



Great big earthquake? Stranded on a deserted island? Nuclear winter? Bring it ON. I've got maternal stores for MONTHS.



My maternal stores bring the boys to the yard... and they're like, it's better than yours....



No. Not really. But wouldn't that be nice?



The nausea from heartburn is constant, but compared to the horrors of morning sickness it's more than livable. Unfortunately, I've found a new pregnancy joy: Sciatica. (Have I mentioned how much I dislike being pregnant yet?)


Sciatica is doctorese for "a tiny, two inch section of exposed, raw, bleeding, vibrating, pulsating, excruciating nerve in your back that will cause you to whimper in agony and do your best to claw at the walls while remaining absolutely motionless lest you disturb it further." Sciatica and heartburn are both proof of something I've always heartily believed: people should lay eggs.


The good news is that pregnancy did take care of the worst of my symptoms from rheumatoid arthritis. Except for a couple of breakthrough days the swelling and pain is minimal. Yaaay for small favors. Unfortunately, the long-term damage is still there, and packing pounds on an already heavy frame is not doing my damaged knees any good.


I try to enjoy these months of "freedom" from the shadow of RA, but it's hard, knowing what is probably just around the corner once I give birth. I know it's my own faulty immune system attacking my joints, but I can't help but personify it. I feel like I'm sharing my body with an unwelcome guest, a snarling wolf who batters and howls at the door even on the days when he's not allowed inside. Those of you who live with constant pain know how it can be--- there are good days.


There are bad days.



Unfortunately, there just don't seem to be any free days.


When I was young, I used to dream about flying. I'd revel in the feel of conquering the wind, tasting its sweetness against my face.



Now, I dream about running.



In my dreams I am young, and my body is agile. When I run, my feet flit along the surface of the ground and I can feel the strength of my youth rising up to buoy me. I dash about, never breathless, never hurting. I twist and leap. My body sings with the joy of living.



There's a release in every movement, a delight in my strength. The purpose behind my dreams is always thinly veiled substitution for the real plot: freedom from my pain.



I can taste the joy of my pain-free, agile body, and it makes me laugh.



Try as I might to avoid the moment, I always wake up. I hate waking up.


Sallow-faced and puffy-eyed, I slowly heave myself to a sitting position, trying desperately to ignore the rolls of extra flesh and the ponderous, heavy feeling of my body. Of my soul.


I love my husband. I love my son. I even love this unborn little parasite who wedges its little feet down in my pelvic cavity and drums its evil little heels against extremely sensitive nerve endings.



I can love them with all my heart, but if I'm honest with myself, it's not enough. Maybe it is for some woman, or maybe those women are just better at lying to themselves than I am. I need a reason to feel excited about life. I need a purpose. I need something to pit myself against-- something a little more intricate and involved than Just. Plain. Surviving.




Why not NanoWriMo?




I admit, it's not quite the same as backpacking through Europe and Asia, completing the Tevis Cup or hiking the Appalachian Trail, but at least it would be something.




Besides, something seems to have happened to my words.



I used to have a steady flow of words dancing inside of me. They ebbed and flowed, depending on how I felt, but they were always there. It's soothing, having them inside of me, whispering silently. In quiet times they were calming, trickling by in melodic spurts.



When life went wrong they'd bubbly up, frothy and angry, surging forth in a heated, scalding rush. I had no choice in those moments but to let them splash out onto paper. There was no containing the words when they reached that point.



Some of my best writing came from those moments. Rage-filled and tear-laden, what it lacked in proper grammar it usually made up for in sheer, violent expression. I rarely showed it to anyone. Who has the strength to rip open their emotional veins , spill themselves onto paper, and then show the result to a stranger? What do you say to them? "Please, be gentle when critiquing my lifeblood. Keep an eye out for extra commas, dangling participles, and the very essence of what makes me who I am."



Yeah. Right.



Here's the problem, though: Something has happened to my words.It's not depression. I know that feeling-- I spent the better part of a year after the DragonMonkey was born with my smile mask firmly in place, doing my indifferent best to slog through to better times. It's not that. It's more like... that side of me that I prized so highly has dwindled. Where once there was a steady gush, now there's only a trickle. I can feel them sitting there, quietly dormant inside of me. I know I haven't lost the ability to feel, to write. It's more like it's just gone into a quiet hibernation.



And that, more than anything, scares the crap out of me.



Even if I don't capture the words on paper as often as I should, I've always considered myself a writer. I may lack the discipline to sit down in front of a keyboard every night, but that doesn't keep me from tasting the phrases throughout the day.



Now, suddenly, when I reach for my words... I find nothing.




This silence is eerie.




So... why not do NaNoWriMo? Maybe it will be the jump start I need to shock me back into life again.




On the other hand... I'm exhausted.




I work over 50 hours a week. I'm pregnant and struggling with finding my way through my newly-aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. I've got an almost 2-year old son. I have a husband with 3 jobs who is going to school full-time.


I don't want to start something that I can't finish. That would just be depressing. I've done too much of that in my life, and I'm trying to shut that door very firmly behind me.

Also, if I'm honest with myself, I've never been all that great at fictional pieces. I'm too realistic, and the people in my books tend to be too realistic. By the time everybody's finished using their God-given common sense, it's somewhere around the third chapter and it usually makes sense for everyone to just wander off and watch Grey's Anatomy or do some dishes instead of doing anything book-worthy.


Realism never made for great drama.


On the other hand, I've got to do SOMETHING. I considered doing doing NaNoWriMo last year, but I hadn't even heard of its existence until it was already half a week into the competition. By the time I decided I wanted to do it I was already more than a week in the hole and I knew I'd never finish in time.

Have any of you done NaNoWriMo? I mean REALLY done it? Was it worth it?

For that matter--- what do you do to pull yourselves out of your slumps?

I used to:

A: Turn to horses (not a possibility right now for obvious, pregnancy-related reasons)

and

B: Take some time to myself and just disappear from society. I'd quit answering phone calls, quit going online and just spend some time living in my thoughts. I'd spend every spare minute I could outdoors. You'd be amazed how good for the soul a few consecutive nights of walking a beach can be.

Unfortunately, time to yourself and living with a two year old are pretty much mutually exclusive.

So, no words to purge the mess, no time alone, and no horses. I'm pretty much at a loss at how to fix me.

Any suggestions, guys?

Labels:

9 Comments:

Blogger Veronica said...

I dunno. I'm not doing NaNo, because I honestly don't have the energy.

For finding my words again, I go outside and walk, but again, you need to have time for that.

October 12, 2010 at 1:02 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

Becky,

I think you should either A. go for it (NaNo) or B. make a challenge to write something everyday on your blog :). I absolutely fell in love with your writing style when I stumbled across your blog last year. At the time, I was working a very boring job, so I just read blogs----shhhh! Anyway, I don't really know what NaNo is, actually, so I don't know why I'm commenting...hmmmm

I hope you feel better soon :)

October 12, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger AareneX said...

DO IT!!!!!

This will be my third year as a WriMo. Year One was glorious, and might even turn into a Real Book someday. Year Two, I couldn't wait to kill off my characters on Nov 30. (I put them in a jeep and drove them off a cliff, it felt so good).

What felt best was telling my family, my job, my life: "Look, I'm taking a month off from y'all. Just a few hours a day, just for a month. I'll be back in December. Right now I have a totally legitimate reason to stay away from you, because I want to finish this, and you want me to succeed, so you can just make cookies or something while I'm gone."

It's the ultimate "me time". What you write doesn't have to be good. It's a first draft--it's going to suck, because first drafts do suck. However, on the first day of December you'll be able to say to anyone who will listen, "Yep, I wrote a novel last month."

And heck. If you can write a book, what can't you do?

I'm here for you, gal. Do it!

October 12, 2010 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

I'm not perky. So you can trust my words, if not me. I mean who the hell am I?
BUT..It gets better. It comes back.
You're raising a family. It may not fill your soul with satisfaction, or be enough. But it's what your doing at this time of your life.
If NANOWRIMO helps, do it. If it adds to the guilt, don't.
Your children will get older and easier.
Your work load will lighten and it will come back.
The same people who led you to believe this is the best time of your life are the same ones who didn't mention you'll poop during labor.
You are funny, bright and the best writer I've come across in the blogospere.
RA can't take that from you.

October 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger AareneX said...

OT: I think I found your book. Check the comments on the "crosswalk button" post at my blog.

October 12, 2010 at 8:15 PM  
OpenID oregonsunshine said...

Without reading all the comments first, I will offer my never humble opinion.

I can relate. I don't have RA, but fibromyalgia and some other, undiagnosed arthritis that has my inflammation markers sky high with no explanation why. So, I get it. Truly I do.

If you were in Atlanta, you could turn to horses. I'd let you borrow mine. Nothing soothes the soul more than talking to and crying on a pony. The unconditional love and lack of judgement have always been the driving force in the relationship between horses and girls.

Next, I am homeschooling my ADHD 9 yr old son. So, lack of energy and time is also something I understand. Why not modify NaNoMo? Instead of striving for a whole novel, strive for 10 chapters. Or, a Young Reader type novel. I'm sure you'd be great at writing a horsey novel for the younger crowd. In fact, I have a 9 yr old daughter who would probably love to read it. All you really have to do is dress up a couple of your own stories for print. I'm sure you could easily take your experiences at camp and make a great elementary age novel out of it. Maybe that's a better goal with your pregnancy, pain, stress and family life.

I really do feel you. My blogging words have mostly dried up. I can't find my stories and I feel that I've become a boring person in the last couple of years. Where did I go? What happened to me?

Now that I've read the comments, listen to everyone here. We all believe in you. You CAN do it. Mugs says it best. Of course, I'd probably follow her into the mouth of hell, because I trust she knows what she's talking about and if she doesn't, she'll find out the answers. So, she's always a safe bet.

October 13, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger mommyrides said...

A thought that may or may not work is to do some creative journaling. Don't running screaming off into the sunset yet.....all you need to do is find a book, lined or blank, and then fill it with small parts of your daily life. If you don't feel like writing but you have a great photo that inspired you glue it in the book. If you are feeling lost make a list of all the little positive things that happened to you this day. I fill my book with tickets from anything, recipes that I love, pictures of my kids, quotes that have inspired me, sketches of things I have found around me that were worth the time to document in some way. Somedays I just take crayons and color pages in the colors that mark my days.

Basically your book will be a reflection of you and what is important to you. Pictures of horses, your family, a small bag of sand from the beach, flowers pressed between the pages can be covered with tape to make them last. Whatever is important to you on that day.

Keeping a record of the small details in your life will still help you to feel creative and be a place to store words and images until you find your way out of this season in your life.

I'm thinking of you Becky.

Lynn

October 17, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger mommyrides said...

UH, that was "don't go running screaming off into the sunset yet..."

The best part that I forgot to mention is that it only takes a few minutes a day. Especially if you keep your crayons :) and glue sticks and pens in a basket with your book by your bed or by your coffee maker.

October 17, 2010 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Fyyahchild said...

Becky, does it help you to know that many women feel this way when raising a family? I hadn't planned on kids but as you know sometimes they just sorta happened. I remember once going to this psychic with friends during a bachelorette weekend and she told me I wasn't living the life I was meant for and that marrying my now husband was a bad idea...and you know what? Part of me agrees. It was hard to hear and its hard sometimes feeling like my life is some sort of weird illusion pasted over what was supposed to happen. I married him anyway and had my third child. There are amazing days and bad days and ultimately it is my life as I've chosen to live it. If YOU want to do NaNoWriMo, then do it. You only get to live your life once and it's true what they say about regretting what you haven't done more than what you have. If you don't finish, so what? Not the end of the world but at least you gave it a shot.

And thanks for whining about it because I think I'm going to do it too. I always have all these ideas and things I want to write even though I'm not anywhere near as good as you, but I never make time. This is a good way to force myself to do it and maybe, hopefully improve.

October 20, 2010 at 6:36 AM  

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