For years, I’ve been aware of NaNoWriMo– the annual challenge for fiction writers to produce a fifty-thousand word manuscript during the month of November.
I’ve always wanted to participate, except that I don’t write fiction. I encouraged Brandy Chase (of American Muslimah Writer) to participate.
Actually, I suggested that if she took up the challenge, I would, as well, so she took up the challenge, and I am left with the fact that I am not a fiction writer.
Enter Jung’s concept of Synchronicity. Just this morning, while looking for something unrelated, I discovered the nonfiction equivalent to NaNoWriMo– WNFIN, Writing Nonfiction in November:
So, off I go to begin the challenge!
How shall I approach the task? I’ll need to produce about two-thousand words a day to complete the challenge. That’s a lot of writing, especially for someone like me, who hates to babble. I write deliberately. Free writing and verbal effluvience are not my strong suits, nevertheless, they will have to become so in order to meet this challenge.
I think I will make a list of subjects having to do with the events of my life, and the attitudes that have shaped my choices. Each day I’ll take up a new heading. Hopefully, some of this work will find its way to my blog. In that way, I’ll infuse some fresh material into it. I’m getting kind of saturated with writing and thinking about religion. I need a diversion.
I’m taking an internet writing class called “Journaling Through the Chakras.” I’m supposed to begin each writing session with a guided meditation on a particular chakra. So far, I’ve approached the meditations with curiosity and openness, but I can’t help realizing that my best meditations occur behind the wheel of my car.
I love cars; they hold a special place in my heart, and maybe that’s why I can meditate so well in them. I like driving alone, when I can put my attention to traffic on auto-pilot. I don’t know how I do this. At times, I actually miss my exit, and don’t realize it until I “wake up” and wonder why I am still on the highway, or even wonder what highway I’m on…
I’m a good driver. I don’t understand how I can meditate and still maintain good driving habits, but I can. I do it spontaneously. I’ve been thinking for years that I should get a computer or a recording device to keep in the car so I can preserve some of the products of my driving meditations. Maybe that wouldn’t work out, after all. Maybe then I’d really forget about the traffic and get myself into trouble.
Maybe the best value of driving meditations is that I cannot capture them at all without risking problems on the highway. They must then sink back into my unconscious where they can ferment until they find openings into my journal or blog or photography or daily activities. By then, though, their character will have changed, and I won’t recognize them transformed. That’s probably OK, too, because what is the purpose of meditation?
It’s not necessarily to craft everything into beautiful words to type on a keyboard and share with whomever happens to land on the page. It’s not even necessary to save for one’s own self as a reminder or an evidence of one’s intangible life. Meditation’s goals are more practical, even worldly. They are all about putting one’s life in balance between physical and emotional, intellectual and spiritual, social and personal. As such, the act of writing out a meditation pulls out only one or two aspects of the experience. We tend to focus upon those aspects that remains conscious.
They call us to attend a need, make something right, develop something that’s already right, or reinforce something that’s been right all along. What about the rest of it, the part we didn’t write down, the part we couldn’t record? What happens to that? Maybe it’s not important. Some believe it flies out the window. Some say it goes underground and works behind the scenes, gently prodding us to respond to unvocalized wisdom. I don’t know. Maybe some flies out and some sticks around incognito.
All I know for sure is that I meditate best behind the wheel, and look forward to it every day.
Has anyone on WordPress gotten the hang of using this tool? I don’t know what is easy about it. Nothing was easier than controlling font appearance the old-fashioned way. I think I’ll continue to do so, if such an antiquarian method is still available on WordPress.
July 8, 2010
(The metaphorical Riyadh has room for book reviews.)
Anyone familiar with Islam and/or the Middle East will recognize at once that this author knows whereof he writes. He should; he was born and raised in Afghanistan, but has lived in the United States long enough to digest the differences, complexities and contradictions of both worlds.
I wouldn’t have read this book, because I am sick of reading about the poor, downtrodden Middle-Eastern woman. My colleagues, however, are all reading the book, and they practically thrust it upon me. I felt duty-bound to read it and correct whatever misinformation might be pouring forth from the book into their naive minds.
In fact, I was the one who was impressed with the story’s apparent authenticity. Though I’ve never lived in Afghanistan, I know this book could have been a memoir as easily as it is a novel. I won’t go into the plot or the resolution, but I will say that the characters are drawn in all the complexity and irony that marks the human condition beyond its containment within the straightjackets of cultural indoctrination.
I can offer nothing but praise for the book.
The only other thing I added for the benefit of my colleagues was that I’d like to read books about women who are living happily in the Middle East, whose lives are not circumscribed by repressive forces. I know that happy women exist there. I was one of them, and so were my friends. I still have friends who wouldn’t dream of returning to the US to live; they’ve got it too good in Saudi Arabia.
That being said, I do underscore the need to tell the stories of Mariam, Laila, and others like them. Even Rasheed, ogre that he was, could not have behaved but as he’d been taught to behave from growing up around men who taught him, by example, how to behave.
Tariq, however, as well as Abu Laila, grew up under a different set of values which offer a counterpoint and point of departure for the embodiment of the universal values set forth by all religions.
Novels such as this one are nothing if not an important contribution to the edification of readers who would not otherwise be afforded opportunities to enter into the lives of people like Mariam, Laila, Rasheed and Tariq. This is the kind of novel that can swing the tide of entire populations, and therefore position people for the change that must come before this world can thrive in peace, not only peace between men and women, but between cultures and countries.