The Red Sox won the World Series last night.
I’m not the biggest sports fan, certainly not the kind that would happily endure the coldest and harshest of the winter weather to cheer on the Patriots or wait in a long, curving line around Yawkey Way for Red Sox season tickets. I don’t even have the patience to sit through a game.
But I can’t deny that Boston Sports have always been part of my life. My grandmother was a great sports fan. I could come home at any age, welcomed by familiar voices of the announcers filling in the gaps between pitches. Even in the last years of my grandmother’s life, when her short term memory was all but gone, she could still follow a Red Sox game. I grew up in a time when we were still the perpetual underdogs, and I always assumed that our teams would lose, but learned that love meant watching the games anyways.
Here in Boston, you can’t escape the deep devotion to our teams, it’s the city’s blood, pulsing through the seasons. Everyone is affected by the traffic jams and rowdy crowds on the T when the Red Sox have a home game. We are all welcomed to Dunkin Donuts by a cardboard cut out of Gronk offering some ridiculous sandwich. And, on a night like last night, there’s that feeling like everyone is together: first anticipating, then hoping, then celebrating.
I’ve been thinking a lot these days about inspiration. I had taken a little hiatus from writing to recover from the intensity that comes with writing a book, but now I’m ready to get back into it, and thought that November would be a good time to draft a new project.
Why November? Well, it’s National Novel Writing Month, and with that comes the NaNoWriMo Challenge: to write and complete a 50,000 word manuscript in the 30 days of November.
I’ve been meaning to do NaNoWriMo for years now, but always had some other project or task that interfered. This year, there’s none of that, and I’m ready to write!
Except for one thing.
I have no idea what to write.
This is a fascinating new obstacle for me. I’ve maintained an ever-evolving to-do list of projects and stories since high school. I’ve always had some idea that pokes at me when I am focusing on a particular story, and I will make a note and return to my work, and reassure myself that I will work on that other exciting new idea when the first project is done.
Now my book is done and I have the time to pick one of these ideas. They are all unique with wisps of inspiration in each one, but not enough for any particular story to stand out, nothing that is pleading to be written.
This was the opposite for Running In Circles. The characters kept coming to me as I was working on other projects. The memories would come back at random moments, and I would take the time to write it down just to get them out of the way. But then they would come back again. I finally accepted that this manuscript was desperate to be, and I had to somehow succumb to it and let the story come out.
I don’t think that this sort of special beckoning from the other side is required for a writer to sit down and do their work. What it takes is commitment. But, what I am starting to learn, is that it’s way easier to commit yourself to a project when it is something you believe in.
I believed in Running In Circles. The moment I experienced what would someday become the last scene in the book, I knew that I had just lived a story to share. Ever since that night, I had something to hold on to and look forward to working on someday. And perhaps that is another thing I’ve absorbed through years of living in Boston: this unwavering belief in something, even when it feels crazy or hopeless.
It feels good to have something to believe in.
Tomorrow, when I wake up in the morning, I’m going to pack up a legal pad and a pen, and I’m going to a cafe to drink some tea and write. And I’m not exactly sure what that thing is going to be yet. I’m just going to see where it takes me, and I’ll keep going, and we’ll see what happens. I have faith that after 30 days, I’ll make that word count.
I think the point of it all is to enjoy the ups and downs, the wins and losses, the moments of inspiration and the moments of utter clueless-ness.
It’s all worth it.