On Writing…Or Not by Sarah Shuttleworth
Sometimes you just need a moment to watch the sunset to calm your mind. This past weekend I took a trip with a few other writers up to Alpine to stay in a cabin while we finished the last couple days of NaNoWriMo. If you are unaware NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge that happens every November and the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel within the 30 days of November. This is my 10th year to participate in the challenge and my 8th year to be a Municipal Liaison for the organization and run events for my local group and virtually for other writers across Texas who don’t have their own groups.
Some years I win and some years I lose. This was a losing year for me but as I sat there in the cabin in the final hours of the day writing I was at peace with it. I don’t consider it a loss because I have a pretty good chunk of a story that I didn’t have before I started.
This year has been an interesting one for me. Lots of ups and lots of downs. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone more and more. I’ve dealt with loss and grief. I’ve grown in a lot of new areas and feel like I’ve come closer to God in this past year.
The month of November is always busy for me ever since I started participating in NaNoWriMo and this month was no exception. With several other events and things going on, numerous kids activities, and a few winter blues days I just found it harder and harder to get words on the page.
I was looking forward to our retreat weekend though when I might hopefully catch up. While I did write quite a lot it just wasn’t in the cards for me to reach 50,000 this year. The cabin we rented had a nice hill in the back with a picnic table on it. On the last day of the challenge I embraced the cold and made my way to the top to get some writing in.
As I reached the top I was taken by the beauty of the skies around me. I sat and looked around the valley and every direction offered a breathtaking view. One direction held cotton candy clouds of pinks, blues, and purples. Every time I looked away and came back I was met with a different view of colors. As the sun set and the colors faded I felt a deep sense of peace. I sat for a long time just watching the clouds and listening to the birds, crickets, and dogs.
For the first time in awhile I just sat. I wasn’t worried about what events I had to get to or prepare for, I wasn’t worried about reaching my writing goal, and I wasn’t worried about the million other things that have plagued my mind lately. Instead I sat and enjoyed the quiet of the moment. I thanked God for painting me such a beautiful picture. My mind emptied and my soul lightened. I breathed out the stress and breathed in the peace of the moment.
I could have written and increased my word count getting closer to the challenge goal but I would have missed out on that moment. Sometimes you need to stop and take a breath, admire the world around you, and watch the clouds go by. Though when you hear a coyote howling close to you, it might be time to go inside.