I did it. I won NaNoWriMo with just over 52,000 words written this past November. Under typical circumstances I would be so enthusiastic that I would make an announcement the moment my finger hits the “validate” button, but I honestly didn’t feel good about my “accomplishment” when I reached my goal and I still don’t feel any better looking back at things now. It was hardly my best work. I largely recycled my ideas from last year and completely butchered the rest because my thoughts were garbage. I thought I would find my way to motivation station somewhere along the way, but it turns out I was on the wrong train the whole time; I think I knew from the beginning I was on the wrong train, but I went along for the ride because I hoped it would change course. It never happened. Things just kept heading toward destination disappointment.
For some context, 2016 has been personally one of the worst years of my adult life. I let some unfortunate circumstances get in the way of my own happiness, and my writing and other creative projects suffered the consequences. Then, when I finally got myself out of that rut, it was already time for NaNoWriMo again, and NaNo was supposed to be just the thing I needed to get back on track. After having previously survived the challenge in 2015, I thought I had learned about all of the struggles I could possibly face throughout the month of November. The month started with getting sick at the exact time I had scheduled time away from work to write for five days straight. That was a huge blow to my confidence because I knew how much I struggled before, and this was supposed to be the chance I had to get ahead and relieve some pressure. Then just days after all of that nonsense, the results of the US election presented a new obstacle; he-who-must-not-be-named was elected president.
It’s not about “my side” losing. I could handle that if I didn’t already know that nearly everything his administration represents threatens the well-being of many of my friends and family. But the thing is, I do know, and I have a permanent knot in my stomach because of how sickening it is to see people being treated as less than human. Everything people worried about with this new administration is already happening, and I am doing what I can to fight for a better tomorrow.
These last couple of months have been difficult for many, and ultimately, I’ve felt like my novel has needed to take a backseat to everything else going on. It hasn’t felt as important. So instead of working on my writing projects, I have been immersing myself politics so I can better understand and help solve the issues America faces. I can’t sit back and be silent.
Even with all the chaos and uncertainty surrounding these new executive orders and how they will affect us all, there is still the matter of self-care. It is important for me to set aside some alone time to recharge because my introverted brain can’t handle all of the deep political conversations I’ve been having lately. Sometimes I have to deal with people that think problems don’t exist simply because it either doesn’t affect them directly or the suffering people must have “deserved it” somehow. It’s exhausting to interact with people like that because they aren’t willing to reason; they just want other people to shut up so they can go back to not caring about politics or other people. I used to despise politics but I realized at some point how awful that was to have the privilege of not getting involved. My eyes have been opened and I can’t live with myself if I know I haven’t done everything in my power to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.
So, what do I do to take care of myself when I need time away from the world? Well, mostly I’ve been reading tons and sneaking occasional naps on my days off of work. That’s what works for me and I’m sticking to it, but after two months of not writing, it’s definitely time for me to be okay with getting back to my novel. I spent too much time away from my work after NaNo 2015. As much as I’d love to be a full-time peaceful protestor, I can’t ignore my own needs. And who knows? Maybe my novel is my key to changing the world. So consider that my New Year’s resolution. I am giving myself until the end of the year to finish a full draft of my novel. Now that I’ve said it, I have to do it.