So here I am looking back at the past month and the process of writing on a daily basis. I was hoping I might have something really profound and informative to say about the nature of the experience I have had this month. I find I don’t have a lot of feelings about the writing. I approached it as a practice, like my yoga practice, my meditation practice, my healing practice, my practice of prayer. I am happy that I was able to commit to this writing practice and be mostly consistent. I wasn’t sure when I started whether I could be.
I saw a few posts this morning from people who participated the novel-writing exercise that inspired me the write something each day. They all posted the number of words they had produced during the month. So I spent a little time calculating how many words I wrote during November, and it came out to be somewhat more than 20,000. That could be parlayed into a decent length novella, PROVIDED there was some consistency and connection between the “chapters.”
Looking back, I wrote of mix of autobiography and commentary, about spirituality, politics and food. About one-third of what I wrote was researched and followed some minimal outline. For the rest, I either simply sat down at the keyboard and wrote whatever came to mind, or wrote about one of long list of subjects I thought I might like to explore in 1,000 words or so. I didn’t meet that 1,000 word goal on most of the writings. I found that I had said what I wanted to say and had completed my thought in more like 750. Nine posts were fewer than 600 words; 7 were more than 900; of the remaining 13, ten were more than 700. The number of words interests me in the face of Twitter (in which I do not participate), which requires the thought to be expressed in 140 or fewer CHARACTERS. What nature of being are we humans becoming that we must learn to express the most complex of philosophical observations in “25 words of less?”
I worry about the limits of our creativity when expression is reduced to such a fleeting few words. Or that new social networking site (Snapchat?) where posts and pictures are only live for 10 seconds. When something has the capacity for so few words, or is live for such a short time, what incentive is there for forming a complex thought or idea, and selling or exposing or sharing that concept with another. What will happen to philosophy, religion, social discourse when we limit ourselves so severely in our method and manner of expression?
Looking back over my month of writing and the subjects that I did not use from my idea list, I might have enough material, to write a short book in praise of food and eating. I found that I have some older work on this subject as well. Preparing, eating and sharing good food is a great social pastime, always leaving me with a warm and comfortable feeling. I have a guest coming for Christmas dinner who cannot eat fowl, while I have another guest who doesn’t eat meat, along with a couple who don’t care for vegetables. Crossing all of the food boundaries with these will in and of itself likely create interesting conversation at the dinner table, and more meat for writing after the new year.
I started the month of November in October, researching all of the holidays and holy days there are in the month. I sought out the Christian and Hindu saints’ days and found that both religions have at least one honoree on each day of the month! I looked for the pagan holidays and for American secular holidays. Some were obvious, like Thanksgiving, All Saints and All Souls, and Veteran’s Day, but did anyone know that the 11th is a pagan holiday derived from the Germanic tradition that honors all kin who have died in battle? Or that the 11th is also a pagan celebration of all of one’s ancestors? Or the Hindu festival of Diwali – an unusual festival of LIGHTS – was on November 3. And since my daughter and my grandmother were both born in November, I looked at November birthdays in my list of holidays and found Carl Sagan on the 9th.
I considered writing about astronomy (the Leonid meteors on the 16th) and the phases of the moon (full on the 17th). I considered astrology: both Scorpio and Sagittarius share November. And I even played with the numerology and alphabet numbers for the month. Did you know that the word “November” reduces to the number “4?” In the Tarot major arcana IV is The Emperor, the father archetype. In the small cards 4 is associated with stability, sometimes stagnation. But I ended up not writing about those, except for the Full Moon. And about the mystery of the number “9.”
I had many of my everyday activities on the list of subjects on which I might write. It covered several pages. I wrote about food and garlic planting (also food) and will write tomorrow about yoga practice. To finish one practice while focusing on another. This has been a great month. I appreciate all the “Likes” and all the comments that you have made. I’m glad so many read my ramblings. I’m glad that you enjoyed them. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Had to be enjoyable for me. I spent an average of 2 hours a day on this work, making it third in commitment this month behind sleeping and working at 9 Mile Farm.
Maybe I’ll do it again in May when the days are warmer, the earth is brighter and everything is lighter and more joyful, and where most of my associations are happy. Maybe I will do a memoir in May. . .