I decided to start a new kind of “month” – “Take Care Of Me First” month, or TaCaMeFiMo (TAH-CAH-MEE-FEE-MO) — and invite everyone who reads this to join me. Details below, but first, a bit of background:
The idea was to do this concurrently with crazy November writing ambitions: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); the November PAD (Poem A Day, through Poetic Asides) Chapbook Challenge; NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Yes, I planned carefully how to be a NaNo Rebel, working in the various projects as adjunct to the new novel.
The paradox: do it all in support of my BIG GOAL — to step back from major projects I’ve handled with groups of writers and others, and take care of my own health and sanity needs FIRST:
– Establish functional sleep habits.
– Take my buns and the rest of my body to the health club five days per week and continue the healing process from my accident two years ago.
– Let go of the 25 lbs. I gained back.
– Work on strength and flexibility.
– Establish constructive eating patterns to reach and maintain a sane weight.
– Laugh and play more.
– Reduce my incessant worrying about the future, and second-guessing decisions from the past.
– Pace myself! Limit the time spent on writing projects, and fill the space with healthy stuff.
– Embrace and cherish what is wonderful in my life. Live in the “now”.
I began to plot this out in my “Never Forget Your Dreams” planner book (from Refuse To Choose, Barbara Sher’s amazing blueprint for “Scanners”). The ideas flowed and I realized I have ways of dealing with pieces of all of the projects I want to handle (or at least start) without having to dive fully into almost any of them. Yes, shamelessly, I would weave the silk into a net that surrounds me and this experiment in living what’s important:
1. Write my NaNoWriMo as a joint project with my husband; we did this in 2006; I won by completing 52,000 words within the time frame. He came up with the story idea, characters he wanted, plot and story line, and I wrote the book, adding scenes, all the words that made it to the page, massaging it when necessary.
So far this year, we’ve talked through the basic story line, have the title, main characters, villains, supporting cast, location, main story line and critical subtext identified. We know the triggering event, lots of possibilities for high and low points, and have a general idea of the ending. Like last time, Hubby’s imagination supplies most of this. I’ll throw in conflict, intrigue, twists, and whatever else strikes me during the writing phase.
In my NaNoRebel garb, I decided that the female main character would do a few more unscripted things during the month — write in her journal, plan out the portions of a book she’s writing about her travels, create a month of poems for another book she’s rewriting, and track her plan for gaining control of her life, one good step at a time — all while engaged in living the story being written.
2. 100 Words – a daily no-more-than-one-hundred-word piece, sharply focused, on one of my blogs:
– Poetic-Muselings.net (2 posts) — on my scheduled posting day.
– Gluten-Free Travel by Graf (4 posts) — long dormant and lonely.
– RoadWriter (12 posts) – my blog the Tripod cyber-trolls destroyed a couple of years ago. I started a new version on wordpress a year ago with my domain name, and grappled with its purpose. Recently (when I let go of trying to know) I got a clear sense of what I want to do, and how I want to do it: use the 100 Words posts to sketch out, idea by idea, what I have, and what I need, to pull together Heart, Soul, And Rough Edges, my book of poems, prose, and pictures about our decade of living and traveling all over the US and Canada.
– TaCaMeFiMo (12 posts) — the new one, not yet built, to track and share the journey to Finally Taking Care of Me First. I figured posts on this new blog would run a bit over 100 Words at the beginning, so this would give a word count cushion of a few hundred . . . maybe.
AHA! See? That’s 3,000 words right there!
3. Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge month. My MC will write poems, some may actually work in this NaNo novel. Most of the effort will focus on poems for the rewrite of my 2008 NaNo — The Guilt Ghost: Conversations With My Mother Now That She’s Dead — as a Novel in Verse.
My colleague, Margaret Fieland, wrote her NaNo last year as a scifi book, and did the PAD Challenge. Relocated, her NaNo, and Sand in the Desert, her book of thirty poems, were published this year. Is it inspiration or idea stealing to want to copy her success?
Figuring roughly 50 words/poem, times 30 days = 1500 words! Add that to “100 Words”, and the total word count for NaNo drops to about 45,500.
Time to schedule all of this into the calendar:
1. TaCaMeFiMo time first. Between the health club, breakfast, errands, and appointments, mornings are full. Hmm. Quality (and quantity) time with Hubby and Harlee the Wonder Poodle — a couple of hours per day, at least. More stretch and home PT time (up to one hour daily, broken into six ten-minute chunks). Go to bed by 10:30 pm; get at least eight hours of rest; prep time to make it happen = an extra 30 min in the evening.
2. Other commitments — previously-scheduled get-togethers with friends, postponed from Muse madness (4 evenings); two Oregon Ducks football games (my birthday present to hubby); two Oregon Ducks women’s volleyball games I promised to go to, after the Muse Conference was over; Open Mic Poetry Reading I’m helping with, as well as being a semi-featured reader (one afternoon and evening); Holiday Market Book Event where I’ll be signing copies of LIFELINES on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (prep, travel, set up, signing, breakdown = ten hours); monthly meetings I’ve invited others to attend, so must be there, too (four evenings).
Dropped out of the schedule — five other commitments, including a poetry workshop with the Oregon Poet Laureate, a memorial reading for those we’ve lost in the past couple of years; the Slam series I’d love to attend and try my hand at; the Third Saturday Reading Series, where I got my first break at open mic, and to launch LIFELINES. My Book Club, again.
3. Playing the numbers game . . . for writing:
– 20 days of intense NaNo writing = 2,300 words to reach 45,500. @ 500 wpm = 90 hrs = 4.5 hrs/NaNo writing session
– 20 days to write poems, playing catch-up a few times during the month; I always fall behind. Guesstimate @ 1 – 1.5 hr/poem = 30 – 45 hrs = 2 hrs/poetry writing session
– 10 days to write 30 posts for “100 Words”; I know I won’t do it daily. @ 45 min/post = 22 hrs = 2.2 hrs/blog writing session
This oh-so-sensible schedule = about 145 writing hours for the month = about 5 hrs/day, factored in a 30 day month. But, as you can see with 1 and 2 above, there aren’t a lot of days to spend 5 hrs on writing, let alone, all 30 days.
So, here I sit, two days late with my scheduled post for Poetic Muselings. I wrote a version of this a couple of weeks ago. Felt smug. Then squirmy. Then sighed.
TaCaMeFe won out — in order to take care of me first, much of the rest has to slide into December. I’ll keep my notes for the new site and post ideas, as well as what I do during this month; maybe before the end of November, I’ll get the domain name and capture a site. I love my idea of “100 Words” and hope to start that on Dec. 1, too.
I’ve been to the health club once, on Nov. 1, for my Tai Chi class. Today I have to go there to do my workout routine so personal trainer (who I hired for 30 minute sessions to get me going) won’t fire me next week. I promised us both I’d do it twice a week.
My Dragon voice-recognition program will get going a bit later today, to bring the first words of NaNo to the page. I’m four days behind. Same with Poems. NaNo takes priority for writing time, and I’ll get as much done as I can, working around it, for poems.
Now, after way too many words here, I will go downstairs to spend time with Hubby and Harlee. After I figure out what will thaw out in time for dinner. Forgot to factor that in!
Watch for another installment of this in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck, and think about what you can do to Take Care of Yourself First, starting now. Today. Really. Share your ideas and successes. We are all in this together . . . and I plan to add these words to my NaNo count, since I completely rewrote the post.