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A November Pledge

It’s the first of November. It’ll be one of busiest months I’ve had in as long as I can remember, and I’m sitting on the bus to work, typing this blog post instead of getting to work on any of the many things that will fill every minute of these next thirty days.

Because I just sat for about fifteen minutes and meditated. Specifically, I followed a guided meditation from the 10% Happier app, which has become a staple of my daily life over the last month or so. In this series, about developing emotional agility, meditators are asked to examine their feelings from a neutral perspective; to learn to identify the feelings, then identify how those feelings affect us. It’s a bit meta, to say “how do I feel about being angry?” or “am I okay with this frustration?” but I’ve also found it to be informative.

This morning, I identified anxiety in myself, a common thing, as I’m medicated for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The difference this morning’s meditation was that I knew what I’m feeling anxious about, and how I feel about that anxiety.

I feel resigned to it. The anxiety sparked by my fervent desire to “win” NaNoWriMo (by writing a 50,000 word novel this month), something I’ve never done despite years of trying. I have already resigned myself to the failure that will no doubt announce itself on November 29, as my 5000-word attempt at a new novel joins its companions in my growing trunk of unfinished stories, and I take my traditional two-to-three month sabbatical from writing at all, sparked by the feelings of failure and disappointment that NaNo brought, compounded by seeing so many people I respect succeeding. Shame at their kind words, confusion that they respect me as a writer when I can’t sit down and do the damn thing.

But then, something else happened, which hasn’t happened before. I thought about the prep work that I put into this year’s NaNo effort. I thought about the experiences I had only a few months ago, on the Writing Excuses Cruise and at Worldcon, where my status as a writer never came into question. I was a writer there. I am a writer here.

I thought about the new friends I made on that journey, and the things I learned from them, About my instructors, whose candid acknowledgement of the same anxieties that I experience around my writing was both a shock and a comfort. About my writing-world friends from before those experiences, in whom I’ve found inspiration and camaraderie. But before I delve into a cheesier realm than is necessary for this exercise, I’ll stop myself and say this: I recognized that the anxiety is there, I recognized why it’s there, and I recognized how I can circumvent its effects on me…hell, maybe even use them to my advantage.

I’ve got my outline, my tools, and my community. And I’ve got my anxiety to keep me honest.

And for now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to start writing.

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