When I learned the dates for this fall read-athon, I immediately rearranged my academic schedule to free up the weekend from grading or major lesson plans. My goal was to do as I have done for the past three events - read 12 hours over the course of the weekend. I was excited and planned to make a dent in my TBR pile, while at the same time participating in Carl's RIP Challenge.
But my personal life has taken an introspective turn lately. For some reason I have not felt like reading fiction at all. I think it has been at least six weeks since I have read a novel, although I have started several. I am contemplating participation in NaNoWriMo this November, and all my energy has been focused on that activity. Of course, committing to this event is another matter (fear of failure, fear of writer's block, fear that the story isn't good enough...well, you get the picture).
But this morning I had a rather "novel" idea (sorry...couldn't resist the pun). I could participate in the read-athon by reading books that will help me with NaNoWriMo. I refuse to fall into my typical trap of "I Should...." For example, I should read a certain amount of time; I should post a certain number of updates; I should read a certain book. Instead, I am going to use this free weekend to pursue interests that I want ....and so far this morning that has included the completion of one book!!
I quickly read/skimmed the book, Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel. I think it was Catherine at Words World and Wings that introduced me to this author and creativity coach. While much of the information was either familiar to me - or slightly ahead of my own creative journey, I did enjoy the overall message. In particular, I discovered that I need to learn to embrace my creative desires; I need to stop sabotaging myself with destructive talk and dualistic thinking; and I need to allow myself to dream. Many of the examples from the book center on those who have already achieved a level of success in one area - only to discover that they truly desire to create in another way. Their comfort zone is a hindrance to their creative life.
As I was reading this book it occurred to me that even in my pursuit of finding a creative outlet, I am still putting myself in a box. For example, I have always thought that if I am going to write, then I should have the dream of publication. It is not valid, I told myself, to want to write just for personal reasons. But I think that is inaccurate and there is a middle ground for me. I think that it is ok to write just for my own pleasure - but I can also foster the dream that perhaps my writing might resonate with someone somewhere. I do not dream of being on the New York Times Bestseller list - but I do dream of having an impact. This is the heart of who I am, which is why I am a teacher.
Through reading this book, I have validated what I have known for a while. The project that I should be working on is a non-fiction project. I NEED to get this story down on paper - and NaNoWriMo is the vehicle. I think that after the non-fiction portion is written - I will be free to revise and perhaps create a fictional tale. This would be a logical step. And then, once I have those under my belt, my creativity muscles will be developed enough to perhaps tackle the story that I worked on all summer. I am not giving up on that project - I am only following my heart.