from Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving


“Not all storytelling is what it’s cracked up to be.” p 7Ahhhh November. Here we are at last. In an effort to distract us from the fog, the lack of leaves on the trees, the falling temperatures and the decline of available sunlight, November has been designated by many groups as Do Something Every Day month.

You can recommend a book, post to your blog, take a photograph, write, learn something or –– in the opposite vein— not shave. For the past few years I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo. I’ve signed up on the website, somewhat for the accountability, but mostly for the pep talks. This is also the third year we’ve offered writing space at my library. This year we are designating Sundays for would-be novelists. The typewriters have fresh ribbons, the snacks and cocoa are at the ready.

I’m anxious to get back to my work-in-progress. I feel like I’ve left my characters flailing, or at least frozen in mid-sentence. But I have been thinking about them daily, trying to work out scenarios and situations in my head before committing the words to paper. And building on 40,000 words feels achievable. I’d much rather continue my work, than spend any more time staring at a stark white screen, questioning how to begin. As I’ve become more acquainted with my characters over the past year, Jack and Nate’s idiosyncracies and quirks have become as familiar as my own.

So this year it’s not about the word count, it’s about the story. The way it weaves and wraps around me, like stepping into that fog and walking through it to the other side. I’ve come to see that storytelling is a part of everything I do. When I bake I’m continuing my grandmother’s timeline, when I take a picture I’m collecting an image that the someone will want to step into, much like Jane and Michael jumping into the chalk drawings in Mary Poppins. This window was one that I spied when we were on vacation. The flowing curtain caught my attention and I wondered who lived there, what do they do, who d they love? I can’t help but let my mind wander with possibilities.

Story is what matters when I choose to listen to a podcast like Big Magic or 88 Cups of Tea. Some of the featured guests talk about their experiences and I suddenly see a new way of looking at a problem. Music too has a narrative and it’s why I am currently obsessed with Lin- Manual Miranda and his Hamilton Broadway sensation. How did he create such an amazing achievement and how many hours did he labor over the lyrics? It’s humbling and uplifting to listen to that soundtrack. I’ve played it so many times I feel like its sunk into my marrow. Cut me open and those words will spill out

November has such a bad reputation. The days are consistent in their greyness, which replaces that ever-present golden hue of October. In order for me to make it through I need to be inspired. I keep reminding myself that inspiration is everywhere– in what I see, what I listen to and what I read. That’s what feeds me, but it’s that story that I’m seeking. Celebrate dailyness, that’s how to do it.

I had a vision last night that each fallen leaf was an idea. If that were so there is an abundance just waiting for me to walk out and grab an armful. Right now my yard is covered just waiting for me to come out and play.

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