Saturday, November 21, 2009

Avacada Stigmata

A friend of mine received the miracle of the virgin vegetable recently when she punctured her palm pitting an avocado. We called it “Avacada Stigmata.”

Okay, technically, an avocado's a fruit. But I am one of those persons who can’t classify a savory thing as a fruit (or ketchup as a vegetable). Mmmm, would you like your avocado cobbler a la mode?

Back to the point at hand: a simple, routine cooking activity took a sudden and painful turn that disrupted her life for several days. Luckily no stitches were required, although she bruised a bone. It was during this time that she realized that she’s fairly ambidextrous.

Gandhi, too, was an ambidextrian. Did that help him turn his other cheek?

Ambidexterity is something that I do not share with her or Gandhi. I write, eat, and reach with my right hand, and my left one just tags along as a helper, without any sort of “pick me! pick me!” over-achiever attitude. It’s just happy to observe and assist.

When something’s “two-fisted,” it’s hard-hitting or virile (per Merriam Webster). That doesn’t sound much like Gandhi.

But on the other hand....

If you “single-handedly” do something, you are praised for your accomplishment. It generally means you’re working alone. That I can do.

November is “National Write a Novel in a Month” month (NaNoWriMo), and for the fifth year, I’m at it again, pouring forth 50,000 words of new fiction. (But not really single-handedly since I type with both hands.)

NaNoWriMo is not quite like a paring knife in the palm, but it does release a creative stigmata of writer’s ecstasy when the words flow onto the page. You feel this amazing satisfying rush as dialogue and description flood across the keyboard. For a few precious moments you’re dishing up dollops of Pulitzer pulp.

And then the holes heal and the ideas dry up. And then you notice every household chore you haven’t done in the last ten years. But you know that they’ll still be there in December, so you write on. Fiction feast or famine, you strike at the pit of the avocado in your mind to get to the meat of the story. You remove all the obstacles and dig in to achieve your dream.

Come November 30th, there will be several thousands of happy writers who meet their numbers and succeed in getting their books drafted. Some will miss the mark, but whether you write 50 words or 50,000, it’s still a great event to attempt. I consider it a mental endurance feat similar to the dance marathons of the 1920s and 1930s. Write ‘til you drop. At least with NaNo, we don’t get bunions.

What was the last goal you committed to and successfully completed? Was it something done single-handedly, or did you have help and support along the way? How did you feel when you finished?

I’m a little behind this year and am working hard to catch up, still jabbing at my imagination to get at the good stuff. I may end up with a big mess of guacamole on December 1st, but one thing’s for certain – I’ll be high-fiving myself when it’s done.