Words in general have been a pretty big part of my daily life recently. I knew when we started NaNo words would take priority over a lot of my hobbies - I just didn't understand what that would mean.
As far as the attempt at 50,000 words goes, I've already had a few ups and downs. (To the point that I almost didn't start at all, but I'm rather glad I did.) Writing is something I've always loved to do, but I don't think NaNoWriMo would be as much fun if I didn't share the common ground - and accountability - with my sisters and mum. We'll be sitting on the couch, laptops whirring away, and someone will ask for a random word - "that word for when X happens, but you don't really want to admit it, and it isn't Y" . . . "Z" someone will helpfully supply - or we'll need a character or place name. We haven't hit any character rebellion yet (sounds weird, but it does happen), so we haven't had to do any major plot problem solving. We're steadily typing away . . . and checking out each-other's word count. :)
The farther into NaNo I get, the more I can't help thinking that NaNoWriMo is a lot like life. We started NaNo with basic story ideas, and the more we write the more we are surprised at the direction our stories are taking. Life, when I was five or even seven or twelve, wasn't that big of a deal: it just happened. Kind-of the way I read books: someone else wrote them and I get to enjoy all the work, frustration and painful re-edits they went through before it went to print. But the older I get, the more Life seems to be a huge endeavor - some of it really fun and exciting, and some of it really not.
Writing fiction is a lot like painting: you sketch your scene (sometimes only mentally) and then you start adding color and detail. And when you step back from the painting to get the whole picture, you realize that in one corner the shadows are a little too dark, or that the shades of blue used for water aren't quite rich enough to give it depth. Stories work the same way. And so does life. Its called growing.
We've been having a lot of interesting discussions at home about what it looks like to love others the way Christ intended us to. And in my own quiet time I've been coming across a lot of things I thought I knew the answers to, but I'm having to re-evaluate: is the way I live this conviction truly about honoring the God who redeemed me with His blood, or is it about me looking like a "good" Christian? There are a lot of words swirling in my head and my heart.
When I was wee, I was pretty sure I knew how to love others: the Golden Rule of "do unto others as you would have others do until you" seemed pretty clear. But then I grew up and the issue of convictions that didn't line up clouded things . . . . your church says, and my church says, and this evangelist teaches, and that one does, and I'm convinced . . . . and words that contain truth begin to seemingly war with each other. 'Good things' become Standards that we defend fiercely, sometimes to the detriment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I love how Jasmine Baucham's post "Are you Trusting In Chariots?" neatly wrapped the issue in a single question:
"Are we more focused on giving an answer for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), or in defending our particular lifestyle or pet paradigm? "
I am ashamed to say that in the last several weeks I have to admit that I do. The words that define what I say I believe have become more important than my desire to be more like my Savior. I never once thought that realization would ever have similar threads with NaNo.
Chickadee, Sharpi and I all have vastly varying NaNo plots. And we all have different ways of working through the writing challenges that crop up. If we end up comparing efforts, I’m pretty sure at least once we’ll all come across details in the other’s stories that prompt a, “Hmmm . . . . I don’t think I would have taken that route,” moment. But at the end of the day, we are more interested in encouraging one another and helping each other through the tough spots than we are in making a word-count happen. We're family. That's what it means to love each other.
In "The Church" (as being defined as the body of Christ, and not limited to one specific congregation or denomination) there is a vast array of people living lives that are never going to look the same. We - yes, we - hold to our Standards and end up behaving as though it is our job to change the hearts of our brothers and sisters instead of loving them unconditionally. And the words of truth that inspired our standards end up condemning and discouraging.
On the extreme flip side you have the view that, since we are supposed to love each other no matter what, we should also be tolerant of wrong - which is nothing more than twisting words of truth to mean what we want them to. (If the issue boiled down to love alone, there would have been no reason for Christ to make the ultimate sacrifice of His life, since the need for reconciliation with God would have been negated by His unconditional love.)
We Three have different writing styles - and as much as I sometimes wish I was writing my sister's stories instead of mine, that isn't how it works. Conversely, God has given each of us different lives and things work a whole lot better when we focus on living ours instead of someone else's. While we girls are all cozied on the couch writing, we are in the perfect position to offer each other advice, encouragement, word suggestions, and spelling corrections; when we live we should, by all means, offer encouragement and correction IF we have earned that privilege from the other person by first walking with them and loving them unconditionally.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't appreciate it very much if a near-stranger came up to me and told me in polished Christian-ese, “You should be living you life better.” I’m guilty of making mental judgment calls on other people’s lives, and have to be reminded that I don’t see the whole picture; I haven’t walked in their shoes. And who am I, with my stubborn, rebellious heart, to be making that judgment?
Hmmm. Lots to think about. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go focus on my word count. I mean, my life.