Nano Rebel – Almost Half Way

memoir-into3I love this memoir or autobiography thingy. Like so much of writing, it’s a pain in the ass and a fantastic experience. This has been a busy week for me, as in doing other things besides writing. Of course, bless their hearts, nothing is harder than dealing with the idiots and morons. But dang! We had an election that shook me to my core – more than politics or other elections have in my lifetime.

Boring PresentationOn Wednesday, I went to a meeting that took too long and annoyed me – don’t they all?

I’ve managed to stay on pace to meet my Nano word count goal, but this week was not as productive as last week. I’m finding that I need to do a lot of research, too much thinking, and much trying to remember details of events I stopped caring about long ago.

Friday morning, I attended a write-in with the SnoValley group. After getting only four sentences written in the first hour, I gave up on a productive morning. Despite repeated comments from Alex that he would not talk politics, I returned from a break to a hot and heavy discussion relating to the political events of the week. Since I’ve been trying to contain my anger, it was not long before I was in rant mode. More wasted time venting, and less productive time writing.

I had one other event on that day, thus Friday was my lowest word count day since Nano launched. I was told that the Friday group wrote more during Nano. ‘twas not so on Veteran’s Day.

Another adventure this week was attending a session on memoir sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) It was facilitated by Theo Pauline Nestor, a memoirist and author of Writing is My Drink. The class was a productive learning experience for me and I wanted more. It was too short, even though it went a little overtime. From what I learned in that class, I decided to write an Intro to my memoir. Here’s part of it.

Introduction to Passionate Disbelief (Partial)

memoir-into2

To believe, or not to believe? Is that the question? Is it better to suffer with my beliefs as I am told? What good does any of it do? Do I stand behind my beliefs, unpopular or not? Would I be a martyr to my causes and die for my beliefs? Is it possible for me to decide for myself what to believe? If I am to believe anything, do I have the right to demand evidence or proof first?

What do I believe? How did I come to my beliefs? Do we have a complete free will to decide what we believe, or are we programmed? Do genetics play a role? How much does my culture and past life determine what I believe today?

I dislike being asked why. It makes me think and I’m too lazy for thinking.

And yet.

Why? is the best question there is. As children, we ask why repeatedly. As parents, we provide answers to our children, eventually saying, “Cuz I’m (Mom, Dad, your boss), that’s why.” Sometimes we answer why with whatever, just because, it is what it is, why not, the bible tells me so, and my personal favorites, who cares, and I don’t know.

When I was that quality assurance guy, I liked using five whys to determine root causes to problems. It is simply asking why repeatedly for five times, as any three-year old might.

Can I have both an open mind and firm convictions? Is it possible for me tell you why I believe (or don’t) something without trying to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong? We can both be wrong, but can we both be right?

So many questions. So few answers. Terry Tempest Williams has agreed that her writing is in response to questions (cited in an interview with Scott London on The Politics of Place). She went on to mention Rainer Maria Rilke, who described how questions move us.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” (From Letters to a Young Poet, 1929)

Exploring my spiritual past is like reverse engineering, or tracing the specific coding that, to some degree, contributed to my conclusions years later. For many questions, I may have followed Rilke and lived into the answer.

memoir-into5Wonder why? Carefully look both ways and mind the gap.

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10 thoughts on “Nano Rebel – Almost Half Way

  1. Thanks for your NaNo update and the philosophical questions. It’s been a rough week for me, as well. At times I felt so ill with the state of the country that I couldn’t write. Yesterday was a good day, though. I’m at about 17,000 words, which puts me just a little bit behind.

    I’ve thought about what you are saying in this blog. I think an “open mind and firm convictions” is quite possible and even one of the best qualities I find in myself. I hold onto my love toward humankind and dedication to making the world a better place. Sometimes, though, I find that because I have an open mind I change in how to achieve that goal. For instance, for my entire life I strongly supported the death penalty. Even my husband could not sway me. A few years ago, though, I went to the Mauthausen Death camp in Austria. Standing in the gas chamber that took many lives changed years of opinion in only a few minutes. It reminded me of the one thing that was missing in my previous argument-the human factor. Strong convictions, open mind, good combo.

    Anyway, I need to get back to my writing now. Thanks for sharing, and keep it strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My death sentence stance firmed up when I visited “Old Sparky,” the old electric chair in Huntsville, TX. You’re right, people and (for me) logic have displaced my fear and hatred. But I still have my days when I might consider exceptions (just kidding). Keep writing. Now is the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I never know when I new insight might change my beliefs. It happens, but I’m proud to say that I believe in something secondary to research, reflection, experience and morality, rather than the argument, “I was raised to believe…”

        Old sparky… I hope to never see it. I just finished an excellent novel, “The Choiring of the Trees,” which is worth the read when you aren’t busy writing a memoir.

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  2. you have inspired me, sir, to at least give this (memoir) a go. I don’t expect to reach the goal, but I think at my age I need to sort out the realities and the agonies if only for myself. maybe along the way I’ll hit on an insight here or there. As they say, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.
    Whatever transpires, thank you. And I wish you well on your own journey.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Not being sure if I can finish, having started so late in the game, so I didn’t officially sign up. However, Im playing fair, and churning out what i can on a daily basis, in big lumps. Im up to just under 4000 words, and Ill tell you, it’s fascinating. Im seeing this from a new perspective, this life thing, and that alone is worth the energy.

        As a poet I’m used to short concise moments pulled out of the air, so this feels good, to just open the windows and stretch a bit. Good luck to all of you (and to me )

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