The calendar has flipped over to a new month which means it’s time to add a new “someday” to my journey. This month I’m going to begin learning Italian in earnest. I’ve piddled around with language in the past, but it’s not something that comes easily to my brain. I’ve tried for a week or so (much like dieting), but I’ve always given up. I love Italy. I love the pace and the beauty of Italy. I love traveling in Italy. I would love to speak Italian so I can communicate better when I am there and also to keep a piece of Italy with me.
Reviewing the last three months, writing, for my blogs and in my journal, is moving along smoothly; writing my book (November’s “someday”) is lagging. However, I have been giving the book’s content a lot of thought and my writing is usually done in my brain before I even begin to put words to screen. I am meditating regularly (December’s “someday”) and feel the practice has taken hold as part of my daily routine. I am walking and/or running daily and I am ahead of plan on the 1200-mile annual challenge I started last month (118.76 miles to date). Now, it’s time to add language lessons and practice.
To begin this month’s “someday”, I’ve downloaded an Italian language program to listen to in my car. I’m in my car a lot, so that seems the most reasonable way to get started. I also joined an online language program I’ll use to supplement the audio program.
I’ll keep you posted. For now, ciao!
Month One’s goal was to write and publish a book in 30 days. Failed to finish, but still working on the book. It’s only a fail in terms of the timeframe.
Month Two’s goal is to develop a meditation practice. I am meditating every morning, but don’t seem to be getting any better at keeping my mind reigned in.
Month Three’s goal (next month) is to set off on a challenge to walk or run 1200 exercise miles in 2016. Thoughts on that? Total fear!
I’ve been sick for two weeks and other than a short one-mile walk with the dogs a week ago, I haven’t exercised at all. As the days pile up and I struggle to get through the basics of what has to be done each day, I’m beginning to feel a little panicky about the idea of trying to maintain an average four-mile/day, six days/week schedule starting January 1st. I wrote about “resistance” early on and I now know to identify this type of fear as simply resistance, but I must admit to feeling discouraged about the amount of fear I’m able to generate. I wake up in the morning with my head and chest congested, my body aching, and I think, What if I get sick after January 1st? How would I maintain my running/walking schedule? Two weeks of missed workouts is 48 missed miles!
Part of challenging myself to “366 Somedays” is the exploration of why we put off so many goals and desires to “someday”. There’s the excuses of lack of time, limited resources, other commitments, but I have realized perhaps the biggest reason, excuse, rationalization, whatever you want to call it, is FEAR. Fear of failing. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of “what if?” FEAR. I’ve also realized most of my FEAR comes from inside my head. I’m beginning to think perhaps the most substantial growth I’ll experience this year is learning to quiet the Voice of Fear inside my head. My goal can be summed up in a quote from Yanni: I don’t have a You Can’t Do This voice in my head.
People yak-it-ti-yak a streak
and waste your time of day,
but Mister Ed will never speak,
unless he has something to say.
“Mr. Ed” theme song
Written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans
Today is the final day of my first “someday”. My goal was to write and publish a non-fiction book in 30 days. I’ve already acknowledged I didn’t make my goal, but I’m not calling it a failure. I will continue to work on my book and it will be published within 366 days of when I started. The month has not been a waste. I have learned two very important lessons this month, which is why I’m not calling this a failure.
First, as I’ve written about before, this challenge was a lot harder than I expected. That’s okay as long as I don’t let the difficulty completely derail me – and I won’t. Second, I’ve come to realize I am Mr. Ed in my writing practice. Mr. Ed was a 1960s sitcom featuring a talking horse. Crazy, I know, and not up to the standards of today’s “sophisticated” sitcoms, but I loved this show. As you can see from the theme song above, Mr. Ed only spoke when he had something to say. That’s how I write – only when I have something to say. I’m reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg; she recommends having a writing practice that includes regular writing of any type just for the sake of writing. She makes the analogy of a football team. Nobody would expect a team to run out on the field on game day and play a superlative game without prior practice. So, why expect to sit down and write with quality without practicing writing beforehand? I have trouble with writing for the sake of writing, but I’ve realized this month, I need to do more of that type of writing. Writing just for myself, whatever comes into my mind, just to get myself into the habit of regular writing.
So, my takeaways from this month are: stay the course, even though I’m behind schedule; and, unlike Mr. Ed, I need to write…and write…and write. I need to write more yak-it-ti-yak.
My initial goal for the month of November, my first “someday”, and the WNFIN challenge, was to write and e-publish a non-fiction book in 30 days. Now, one week before the end of 30 days, I’ve revised my goal. Instead of getting the book all the way through publication, I am now aiming at completing the “Shitty First Draft”. This is quite a shortfall from where I had hoped to be, but I’m okay with the adjustment. Writing the book has been much more challenging than I expected. The length alone makes it a totally different type of writing style than what I have been accustomed to. Then there’s the storytelling aspect – again, quite different. I have gone from believing I’d write straight through from the Introduction to the final chapter, to writing a hodgepodge of ideas and stories that are only partly related to my initial outline. Hence, the Shitty First Draft.
In Bird by Bird Anne Lamont urges writers to embrace the shitty first draft claiming it can lead to clarity and even brilliance in the second and third drafts. Ernest Hemingway claimed, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Instead of letting my perfectionism and ego rule how I feel about the shortfall of my goal this first month, I’m going to look at this experience and know I’m in good company. However, I’m not going to say I’ll finish the book Someday – that would be counterintuitive to the point of my 366 Somedays challenge. Instead, I will commit that it will be done by Day 366 – hopefully significantly sooner. On to the second draft…
“Writing is an adventure.”
I haven’t yet told anyone except my husband the topic of the non-fiction book I’m working on this month for my first “someday” and during the WNFIN challenge, but I’m revealing it now. My book is about marriage and how to do it right. My husband and I married when we were only 19-years-old (too young to get married), but we’ve been very happily married for 38 years and I think we’ve done a lot of things right along the way. So, I want to share our experience. I’d love for every married or long-term committed couple to have what we have; to know what we now know. But remember back to one of my first entries about “Resistance”? Well, Resistance is back and it’s talking smack to me. “You’re not a marriage expert. You don’t know enough to tell people how to be married. Hell, you’re not even a writer!”
I’m not one to crawl back in my hole, but I must admit to giving Resistance’s resistance a bit of a listen. My project has stalled and I realized this morning the stall has been caused by Resistance. So, once again, it’s time to smack Resistance upside the head and get back to what my soul is telling me to do. Yes, it’s true: Resistance does not live in one’s soul. Resistance is the opposite of soul. Resistance is the enemy of soul.
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
I’ve taken enough classes and workshops and done enough writing and reading to know, when writing, to be succinct. Keep your writing tight. Make every word count. As the writer of a blog for the last eight years, I have written hundreds of relatively short posts, each on a specific topic, and contained within an overall theme, Debbie Does 50! Please don’t go looking back at each post to see if I did, indeed, write concisely. The point is most of my posts have been in the 400 to 800-word range. I like that length both for writing and for what I like to read. When perusing a magazine, if an article goes beyond the first page I am likely to just skip over it – too long!
Now my quandary is I am trying to write a book. A short book, but a book, not a blog post. The reality is each topic within my book could be a blog post, but I’m finding, in my typical style, each topic is relatively short when I first write it. So I’m wondering – what fleshes out the topic? I’m listening to a book right now in which the author has said the same thing, over and over, in different ways, but without really adding any new content. I don’t want to be that writer.
This challenge of writing a book in 30 days has uncovered new, unexpected challenges. Yesterday it was the challenge of actually writing. Today I’m grappling with this one: when one has been trained to write for humans, how does one learn to write for goldfish and still maintain meaningful content?