You Don’t Have To

I’m exhausted and on a course of antibiotics. Sometimes you get a sign from your body, and this is one for me. It’s definitely time for me to engage in a little self-care: refilling the well that good work comes from, and maintaining this frail meat shell without which I can do nothing at all. I’m enjoying the thought of wrapping up some fairly small pieces of work and then spending some time reading books, playing video games, napping, swimming.

And yet. Today, it seems, is the first day of NaNoWriMo.  As always happens, this is the point in the year where I panic, because though I’ve written six novelettes, two alternate reality games, and at least a half-dozen other projects, somehow none of that counts. Not to the part of my brain that wants to, you know, write novels.

It’s not too late to fix that, hisses a voice in my ear. You can do NaNoWriMo. You can start today.  

This voice is toxic. This is the voice of the American Work Ethic, for which no amount of work is ever enough, and to whom any rest at all is inexcusable idleness. And it’s all lies.

Friends, this has been a difficult year for many of us. We’ve dealt with the regular stresses of life: loved ones passing, jobs lost and found, heartbreaks large and small. And this has been a landmark year for stressors we aren’t accustomed to: hurricanes and fires, terrifying politics, the quiet possibility of nuclear war.

Be kind to yourself, whatever that should mean to you. If it means that NaNoWriMo is not for you this year,  then I congratulate you on your self-knowledge, and I hope you can spend the dusk of the year on something else, something that nurtures you so you can bloom brighter when the time is right.

You’re enough already. Believe it, and act accordingly.

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