The most important thing you can do is show up
Also: 5,000 words is a lot!!!
This past week was a good lesson in the power of showing up.
First, I showed up at the polls. North Carolina offers nearly two weeks of early voting and I exercised my rights on Thursday. (#Warren2020!) Then I took it a step further and showed up for training to be an election official, which means I get to spend at least 15 hours at my polling site this Tuesday, checking in voters and printing ballots so they, too, can show up. (I’m incredibly excited about this so don’t be surprised if the experience sparks a future newsletter issue!)
I showed up for a friend whose outpatient surgery ended up being a three day stay at the hospital, dropping everything to deliver snacks and feed their cats. I ditched my usual Wednesday morning class at the YMCA and showed up at bootcamp instead, a switch I’ve been meaning to make. (Which meant not showing up for the other class, but that’s life - you only have so much time, so you have to put your energy where it’ll make the biggest difference.) I showed up at a work meeting with a presentation about leveraging social media, and at an interview for a freelance article, and for my 9:30 p.m. bedtime, which is essential for my mental health and general well-being.
The other place where I showed up was my desk, in front of the new draft that has, since October, been a series of fits and starts. Despite my robust outline and best intentions, I kept getting pulled into other projects - final edits, freelance assignments, this newsletter. Enough was enough, so I carved out a few mornings this week to show up exactly where I wanted to be. As a result, my new draft reached 5,000 words.
The average length of a novel is 80,000 words, so I have a long way to go. But something about 5,000 makes the project feel substantial, less a loose idea and more a thing that might one day exist. The irony is that I did not set any goals for reaching this mini-milestone. I didn’t, as in the past, vow to write 500 or 1,000 words a day, or promise myself a certain number of pages by the end of the month, or set a timer and type until the buzzer went off. I simply poured a cup of coffee, opened my laptop, and showed up. Somehow, it worked.
I read once that an unpublished writer wields the most power. Agents aren’t asking for final drafts, editors aren’t demanding revisions, readers aren’t waiting impatiently for a new book. She answers to no one, which means she can take her time with a project and write at her leisure. Whenever I begin to feel impatient with my writing career, I think about the freedom I have now and try my best to appreciate it. All I have to do is show up. What a powerful gift. 💛
Snack of the Week
At first, I was skeptical of this chocolate hummus. I had an extremely regrettable run-in with a black bean brownie a few years ago, an experience from which I never truly recovered. Still, I was curious, so I brought this hummus to book club last week, figuring it was better to experiment as a group, and guess what? We all loved it! By the end of our meeting, folks were slathering it directly on fresh baked ginger molasses cookies, which is perhaps the ultimate compliment. I love it when a risk pays off.
Garbage Language: Why Do Corporations Speak the Way They Do?, Vulture. Oh my god, this piece is so good. As someone who 1. loves language, 2. works at a tech company, and 3. fields the occasional existential crisis about those two facts, this takedown of corporate-speak was incredibly satisfying. 🤮
A Dirty Secret: You Can Only Be a Writer if You Can Afford It, The Guardian. "When students ask me for advice with regard to how to 'make it as a writer', I tell them to get a job that also gives them time and space somehow to write; I tell them find a job that, if they still have it 10 years from now, it wouldn’t make them sad." 🙃
How To Give Advice: Less Fixing, More Listening, NPR. "People who ask 'What should I do?' often want to process a problem themselves. You're giving good advice if you can help them get there on their own." Take my advice and read this article. 🤔
A Tiny Challenge
This week's challenge is a no-brainer. Where are you needed? Where do you want to be? Where can you show up? I'll see you there.
See you next Sunday! 💌
A thousand thanks to Eralda L. for last week's generous donation! It bought the coffee that helped me recover from that bootcamp class.
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