“It's funny how just the simple act of answering a day's worth of e-mail will keep the crushing inevitability of the entropic heat death of the universe at bay for a good half hour to an hour.”
John Scalzi

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Day 25: Counting My Blessings
Thu 2010-11-25 22:55:50 (in context)
  • 45,059 wds. long

In the U.S. we celebrate a day called Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday in November. It's a national holiday for being mindfully grateful for "our blessings," a term which may be understood religiously or secularly thanks to semantic drift: the ways in which we are fortunate. The apocryphal origins of the holiday involve early explorers being grateful for not starving to death. In modern times, the day has accrued into its rituals the conjoined twin phenomena of religiopatriotism and sports. All of this together means we eat a lot, we watch some football games, and the sportscasters visit with soldiers stationed abroad and tell them and their families thank you on behalf of the nation.

In the spirit of Thanskgiving, here are the things I am most conscious of being grateful for today:

I and my husband are well off enough never to wonder where our next meal is coming from, or where we'll shelter for the night. We stayed home, slept late, and had a casual lunch in front of the TV--leftover pizza for him, crock pot field roast with veggies for me. For ease and comfort and leisure time, I am grateful.

My husband and in fact all my family, both original and chosen, support me and believe in me as a writer. I can stay home and be a full-time writer rather than clocking time in corporate office because of my husband's support. For the freedom to pursue my chosen career, and the unwavering encouragement I receive in that pursuit, I am grateful.

Today, I went to the local IHOP to meet with other NaNoWriMo participants, those who had no other Thanksgiving evening plans, to work on my novel. I clocked over 2200 words today, having inched my way over the past week up to a point where I felt I could finally skip straight to a scene of drama and energy, and that scene came out almost effortlessly. For times when the work flows like play and I remember on a gut level why I chose to do this with my life, I am grateful.

Also, today, the Saints beat the Dallas Cowboys in their (the Saints') first Thanksgiving Day appearance. For Garret Hartley's 50-yard field goal; Drew Brees's incredible accuracy; awesome catches made by Colston, Henderson, Moore, Meachem, and Bush; and for a kick-ass take-away by Malcolm Jenkins that put the Saints on the path to their winning touchdown, I am grateful. Who dat!

In all seriousness: For me, the concept of "count your blessings" functions not just as a reminder to be consciously grateful for the help I've received along the way, but also as a reminder that many people need that help. While I'm picking up groceries, others are going hungry. While my family have always stood behind my life choices and helped me pursue them, others have painful memories of being told "Writing? Waste of time. What do you really want to be when you grow up?" More and more each year as I return to the volunteer position of NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for the Boulder Region, I realize I take the job on in the same spirit that I'd donate to the local food bank. I feel like it's my responsibility to pass along, in some form or another, all the encouragement I received to the aspiring writers I meet today. The impact of that is by no means on a scale with what Actual Published Authors can do, of course; they have a lot more capital than I do, both monetarily speaking and not. I mean, Stephen King can personally fund scholarships for high school graduates in Maine, and when he writes that scholarship winner a letter of encouragement, it means a hell of a lot. Imagine! Stephen frickin' King telling you "I believe in you. Go forth, and write!" Wow. My name doesn't have that kind of impact. My funds certainly don't have that kind of plasticity. But I can give a small amount of money and a large amount of time to NaNoWriMo. And I can hope that somewhere along the way, some starry-eyed pep talk I babbled into a regional email will help someone receiving that email feel that much better--that much more justified--about giving writing an honored place in their life. If only for November.

So there we go. Happy Thanksgiving.

...Oh yeah. Novel excerpt. Like I said, I got enough of the point-A-to-point-B crap figured out that I was able to skip ahead. The bit I skipped ahead to is the bit where everybody dies. Whee! After that, this happens.

Usually when I wake I remain in human form for some little while, lying in a human bed inside a human habitation. The persistence of the illusion helps to ease the transition from form to formlessness. But after this dream, I rise fully myself, fully incorporeal, fully furious. And the object of my fury is present already, providing a space of mutual awareness into which he murmurs There you are, took you long enough. I am to have no privacy, no space to grieve. He watched my every moment in the dream, and he haunts my existence now that I am awake. The semblance of his presence is like unto a human's shit-eating grin.

I launch myself at him, ripping at his thoughts with thoughts of fire and wings and claws and teeth, a formlessness formed of pure wrath. I am seraphim-at-war, I am the glory that devours, I have five hundred throats each of which scream Chender's full name like a demon chorus pronouncing a curse. This and more I assault him with, a cacophany to bruise his consciousness.

He doesn't resist, doesn't contract his awareness to exclude me. Instead he allows me fully into it. He seems to take a sensual pleasure in allowing me to vent like this. Not that I could hurt him anyway; reality is not so fragile. Nevertheless, as my rage subsides, his lewd enjoyment leaves me feeling oddly violated.

Jetta, he thinks at me, you were going Nephil. It had to stop.

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