We all have someone in our lives, at some point, who sees right to our core. They know and accept our value but also are familiar with our weakness, vices and foibles. Amazingly, they accept these too. In my life, that person is my grandmother. Not long after my youngest daughter was born, she gifted me with a small Willow Tree Angel figurine. The angel represents patience. I’ve been thinking about that little angel a lot lately.
My grandmother is wise, perhaps even prescient, because in my writing practice the one aspect that continually trips me up is my lack of patience. When I feel I’ll never get published, or that that I hate doing revisions, or that I don’t have the skills to make a scene work on the page the way I want it to, I can almost always trace it back to impatience. Because I am an over-achiever, I have a complicated relationship with my goals and my notion of success. I don’t always want to put the time in to do it right. I want the hard part over with and the accomplishment in hand, RIGHT NOW. It’s something I’ve struggled with since childhood. It dogs me now as I pursue writing. It is a skill I’ll need to cultivate if I’m going to reach my goals. I know this.
Beyond the supportive community and word generation, NaNoWriMo is itself an exercise in patience. Yes, we’re all striving for the fabled 50,000 words, but in that striving we are cultivating patience. To get to the 50,000 word mark we have to work daily, or at least regularly, with manageable daily word count goals. Our persistence and patience then pay off- not always in a usable novel, but definitely in helping us to achieve the routine so many writers seem to struggle with the rest of the year. We learn to show up and be present when the muse comes our way. We learn to do the hard part.
As I approach the halfway mark this year, I’m keeping an eye out for moments of patience on my part. Acknowledging and celebrating them along with my daily word counts. Becoming an author is a long, perilous journey- if I’m going to get there, I’m going to have to be patient.
My grandmother is a wise woman, indeed.