Tag Archives: Community

Who Cares About What They Wear: Choosing Who To Vote For

A lot of important elections have been happening around the world lately, and, as many prepare to vote, it has come to my attention that we spend way too much time looking into things that do not matter at the expense of looking carefully into what does matter.

For example, I was reading about the presidential elections in the United States a couple of months ago, and the first bunch of articles I found had a significant number of paragraphs commenting on such things as the candidates’ outfits, their speaking style, and the way they carried themselves.

Granted, these things tell us a lot about an individual; however, they do not seem as important as the proportion of coverage they were given in the news.  There was little on their policies and approaches to various problems they would have to face should they be elected to the Oval Office, only the usual answers that seem to say a lot without really answering the question.

It makes me wonder…

How did we get here?

One reason I can think of is that we, as a society, have perhaps become so removed and uninvolved from the question of governance that we don’t know how to discuss these issues.  If this is the case, then we can’t fault candidates for not wasting their time and energy explaining their position on various topics and issues more thoroughly; it would be like working on a speech to a little baby for hours at a time when whatever words come out of your mouth will entertain it for hours on end.

Not convinced?  Well, just think about your reality and that of those around you.  Can you have an in-depth conversation about the issues facing your neighborhood, city, region, or country?  Can you describe their reality?  Can you explain why the reality is the way it is?  And can you trace a concrete way out?

If, like most of the people I interviewed for this post, you answered “no”, then neither you nor I can fault either the candidates or the news outlets for reporting the not discussing more in-depth these issues with us.

The way out is, in my opinion, for us to get involved in understanding our local reality and, when issues are identified, contributing to their resolution in a proactive way.  This will yield deeper and deeper understanding on the process of governance which in turn will help us gain an increasing understanding of the issues at hand on an increasingly larger scale.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? The Importance Love In Community-Building

Learning is essential for both personal development and the building of a community.  But it’s easier said than done.  When, for example, one has spent a lot of time and poured a lot of energy into one’s education, it can be quite a blow to hear that one might be wrong.  Similarly, when one identifies oneself with a certain knowledge base, it can be quite difficult when it becomes clear that this knowledge base might be, even just in part, false.

It seems that this difficulty is in large part related to our ego, which can create a formidable barrier between us and something new, even if this something new is clearly better.  The ego is what makes us defensive in the face of something new.  The ego is what can make us lash out in anger at something new.  The ego is what can aggravate us when our ideas, previously avant-garde, now seem obsolete.

Love is one of the best lubricants to facilitate learning despite the ego.  There is the love that others have for us, making of our mistakes nothing more than a passing event that does not define our inner worth.  This same love makes others never feel superior to us because they know more than we do.  This same love makes other happy when we succeed, and proud of us when we surpass them.  There is the love that we have for others, which makes us react to them in a similar fashion.

Then there is the love we should all have for learning.  When we love learning, our identity is not wrapped anymore in what we know; it becomes wrapped in learning.  Someone presenting a new and better idea to us becomes a source of joy as we are able to adjust our knowledge for the better.  Interestingly enough, this love for learning makes us love those that are learning with us, and those that contribute to our learning.

This is why an environment imbued with love is so important to learning, and therefore, to both our personal development and to the building of our communities.

Carbs, Garbs, and Barbs: Cooking and Community Building

There is no such thing as a dichotomy. We are noble, spiritual beings, and everything in our lives is meant to help us reach our full capacity. This is why we should challenge ourselves to understand how the various pieces of our life fit together as part of one seamless whole, rather than separate parts that live side by side.

Women are unfortunately judged for the body that we don’t have. You know the one I’m talking about: the firm, flexible, thin and toned body that graces every magazine cover. Objectively, we know what the process behind creating those images is, and we know that looking like that either takes some excellent genes or a lifestyle that many of us cannot afford, either because of a lack of time, or a lack of finances. We also know how enhanced these looks are, through makeup, lighting, the use of special lenses, and, of course, digital manipulation.  But subjectively, many of us kind of want to look like that.

Needless to say, the relationship we have with that perfect, impossible to attain body is a complex one, affecting our relationship with exercise and dieting. These two normal parts of a healthy lifestyle which should be a source of pleasure become instead a bit of a burden. If we eat too many carbs, we won’t fit into the garbs of the size we want to fit in, only to be subjected to many a barb, imagined or real.

This is a very sad state of affairs, mainly because exercise and dieting can be a wonderfully satisfying part of a healthy lifestyle. On a side note, it must be specified that by diet, I mean paying attention to what one eats so as to have good blood pressure, good cholesterol, etc, and not restricting the amount of food one eats for the sake of losing weight. Similarly, by exercising I mean partaking in an enjoyable physical activity that makes one feel energised and happy, not over-exhausting oneself only for the sake of, again, losing weight.

There are so many reasons why exercise and dieting should be a part of a healthy lifestyle, and not just because of its obvious benefits. Many of these benefits are personal, such as developing discipline. But some of them can also benefit the community. For example, when one makes the effort to cook at home with those one lives with, it helps increase the strength of the bonds between the family (or the flatmates). One can invite people over for supper, which can be participatory (pot-luck); one can even invite people over to cook. These all create great opportunities to discuss issues revolving around food, from its benefits to one’s health to the injustices permeating the current food industry.  It also creates great opportunities to develop strong and meaningful friendships.

At the time I first drafted this post, I has been filling my house with people. In the three weeks prior, I had had some 40 people over at different times.  I noticed that even with those with whom I am already good friends, something changes for the better after I willingly open my home to them. And since one of my main passions is community-building, one can easily understand why I have been collecting recipes for so long.

Another thing I did, which long time readers of my blog will not be surprised by, is watching TED talks about the topic. One in particular tickled my fancy: Jamie Oliver’s passion for the cause of better nutrition is infectious. But just as I was about to rededicate my life to it, I remembered a sobering fact: there are thousands of causes worth fighting for. So I put down the phone – I was about to call my boss and quit (OK, maybe that’s a mild exaggeration right there) – and instead, I decided to see what I could do in my day to day life to make food, a vital part of my life, contribute to my efforts to build a community.

I know how to cook. I’m no Jamie Oliver, but I can whip up simple and tasty dishes easily and quickly. I also am involved in community building at the grassroots. I cooked for all of the abovementioned forty people, many of whom do not know how to do so themselves. And a couple of times, I cooked alongside someone who had never made anything more complex than Kraft dinner.

I soon realised that I had the answer before me all along. I had been subconsciously coherent, in that my cooking was already helping the community building process I was involved in. At the simplest level, the fact that I was cooking for all these people made them feel welcome in my home. And at a level that is slightly more complex, I had been helping friends who do not know how to cook to learn this important skill. I’m sure that what I have been doing is nowhere near what I could do, but it’s definitely a great beginning. The first steps had been taken subconsciously, and now, consciously aware of the potential that cooking has in community building, I can take more steps to integrate the two. For example, I can cook with different people, both novices and experts, increasing bonds of friendship and skills at the same time.

But perhaps even when I am not cooking, I can help make eating a community-building experience. I can contribute to making each occasion involving food a festive, elevated and joyful one, from the planning phase to cleaning up after; instilling everything that has to do with food with the same joy that can be found in other aspects of community building. It’s also a fair thing I can do, since the same person bearing the burden of feeding is not really just. And also talk – reflect – consult with others about this process in the hopes of generating learning and creating a positive mindset about food.

And, seeing the importance that dieting has on both personal and community development, I refuse to let that impossible female body ruin the potential food has to better myself and the community in which I live.

Move over, Barbie, make way for an Easy Bake Oven.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? The Importance Love In Community-Building

Learning is essential for both personal development and the building of a community.  But it’s easier said than done.  When, for example, one has spent a lot of time and poured a lot of energy into one’s education, it can be quite a blow to hear that one might be wrong.  Similarly, when one identifies oneself with a certain knowledge base, it can be quite difficult when it becomes clear that this knowledge base might be, even just in part, false.

It seems that this difficulty is in large part related to our ego, which can create a formidable barrier between us and something new, even if this something new is clearly better.  The ego is what makes us defensive in the face of something new.  The ego is what can make us lash out in anger at something new.  The ego is what can aggravate us when our ideas, previously avant-garde, now seem obsolete.

Love is one of the best lubricants to facilitate learning despite the ego.  There is the love that others have for us, making of our mistakes nothing more than a passing event that does not define our inner worth.  This same love makes others never feel superior to us because they know more than we do.  This same love makes other happy when we succeed, and proud of us when we surpass them.  There is the love that we have for others, which makes us react to them in a similar fashion.

Then there is the love we should all have for learning.  When we love learning, our identity is not wrapped anymore in what we know; it becomes wrapped in learning.  Someone presenting a new and better idea to us becomes a source of joy as we are able to adjust our knowledge for the better.  Interestingly enough, this love for learning makes us love those that are learning with us, and those that contribute to our learning.

This is why an environment imbued with love is so important to learning, and therefore, to both our personal development and to the building of our communities.

The Woman Carries the Baby, The Man Does… Nothing? More Thoughts on Supporting the Partner of a Pregnant Woman

Nothing about the birth of my child was about the other person that had so much to do with it: my husband.  I have already discussed this matter previously, but I think it’s such an important topic that I have to bring it up again.

During labor, no one took care of my husband.  And the funny thing is that, because I could see how hard it was on him that I was in so much pain, I was worried about him—which made it all worse on me.  So ironically enough, but not taking care of him, the medical and nursing staff were undermining the person they were focused on—me.

It remained the same after the birth.  As one hospital staff after the other came into the room to check up on me and the baby, my husband was barely acknowledged, let alone addressed.  And when, in response to a question, I would tell the staff member that I had to consult with my husband, I was met with looks of surprise and even confusion.

Even now, a couple of months later, I find that people address all their questions and comments to me.  And when I consult with my husband, they are surprised, some of them even exclaiming: “But she’s your child!”

To them I try to explain that yes, she is, indeed, my child, but she is also his.  While I was the one that carried her for nine months, I didn’t fall because he was the one carrying me.  While I was the one that labored to deliver her, I was able to do so because he was laboring in his own way right beside me.  While I am the one breastfeeding her, he is the one feeding me.  He is just as involved and as sleep-deprived, reads just as many posts, articles, and books about parenting, asks just as many questions about what to do, and wonders just as much as I do on how well he is doing as a parent.  His heart clenches as much as mine when something happens to her, he worries as much as I do, he suffers right there alongside me when something is wrong.

And yet he doesn’t get any of the support that I get.

I’m not sure what the underlying assumptions to this pattern of behavior are.  They could be only positive—perhaps it is a sign of the respect we give mothers for what they go through.  There is definitely a lot of that, thankfully.

But I think there is also negative underlying assumptions, one of them related to the definition of what it means to be a man.  Being loving and nurturing, caring and supportive—it is assumed that the woman, and only the woman, has these.  The bills, the heavy items, and the logistics—all of those are given to the man.

The challenge seems to be that we have yet to overcome our constraining definitions of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man.  There is a lot to be said about this matter, and surely a short post like this one can’t hope to touch on all aspects of this complex matter.  But when it comes to how each one of us, as individuals, can address this matter, I think it’s quite simple, really.

Don’t forget about the father.

Ask him how he is doing.  Ask him how he is feeling.  Ask him what support he needs.  Make sure that this essential piece of the puzzle remains sane and whole.  Because both the baby and the mother need him, and no family can hope to achieve its full potential if all of its members are not functioning at peak capacity.

More People, More Power: How Small Acts Can Contribute to a New World Order

The concept of progressive revelation (that God sends us Revelation in increasingly big doses through the different Manifestations of God) is based on the reality that humanity is maturing.  It is going through stages that are akin to one human’s development from infancy to childhood, onto adolescence and, finally, into adulthood.

As a human being evolves, its understanding evolves as well.  For example, a little child that sees a homeless man begging on the street will only see the man.  The junior youth will see the people ignoring him; the adolescent will see the contrast between the luxury store in front of which the man is begging and the poverty that brought the man there in the first place.  And the adult will be able to make the connection between the greed that drove said luxury store to manufacture its product at a low cost to increase its profit margin and the man begging on the street.

We know that Manifestations of God all come with the same basic Message: to share Guidance with us on how to act as individuals and as a community if we are to remain true to our higher, noble nature.  There are a set of virtues that we have always been told are important.  For example, we are always told that we have to be just.  Initially, this concept was shared in simple terms for simpler times: an eye for an eye, for example.

But now that humanity is going through the final phases of adolescence and stepping into adulthood, its understanding of the concept of justice is becoming more complex.  While at its core, the concept of justice remains the same, its application needs to reflect the increased complexity of the world in which we live.

It comes as little surprise then that we can’t translate the concept of an eye for an eye literally in this day and age.  In the case of the homeless man above, should he choose to steal a hot dog from the nearby cart, should we cut his hand off, as some religions say we should?  What about all the people that contributed to the system that got him there in the first place, should all of their hands be cut off for being accomplices to the theft?

Of course not.  It would basically mean that we would all end up being punished, since, well, we all are contributing in one way or another to the that specific situation.  Humanity has evolved, the relationships between us have evolved, and therefore, the rules regulating these relationships also have to evolve.  The current world order, based on old rules for simpler times, cannot sustain a just international environment; although the foundational concepts remain the same, their application needs to be recreated from scratch to reflect the complexity of the times we live in.

This is a huge endeavor!  But thankfully we can start somewhere small: at the grassroots.  Each one of us should question our contribution to the injustices in the world, be it within our immediate circle of family and friends to our contribution to child labor through our shopping choices.  Slowly, one step at a time, we can make decisions that are more and more aligned with the kind of just world we want to live in.

One such example has to do with food.  If we have access to a Farmer’s Market, where the food comes from a farm we know functions justly, should we not support this market, purchasing our produce there, be it at the price of variety?  If we can choose to buy from a company whose practices are more just than another, shouldn’t we support it?

We have a lot of little choices we can make which compounded, lead to an impressive amount of power to make the world a better place.  But we need to stop fooling ourselves that we can passively live our lives, shaking our heads at the injustice that brought that homeless man to the luxury storefront, and do nothing about it.  The same layers of complexity that now define our relationships give us more power than we ever had before.  We only need to start using it, regularly, systematically, and with our sight firmly fixed on establishing, together, a brand new world order based on our current reality.

Parenting and Marital Happiness: Not Mutually Exclusive

I am a bit of a nerd, just in case you haven’t noticed yet.  I love reading studies and reflecting on the implications of the results found.  However, I also can be quite harsh when it comes to studies that demonstrate a combination of laxity in their data analysis and over-confidence in their interpretation.

I recently got very annoyed (to put it mildly) at the author of an article I came across on the effects of parenting on marriage.  Just writing about this article is making my blood boil!  Posted on the Fortune website, it shares the result of research into marriage satisfaction when a couple has children, and other related data.

It’s not the results that bother me—well, they do, but only in that it is something that needs to be addressed.  What bothers me is that articles like this one use data collected on a limited sample population to perform an analysis that ignores so much of the context within which the data was gathered that the conclusions can only be disheartening and disempowering.  So the results are being presented not as a hypothesis’ applicable for a certain population, but rather as a universal truth.  Similarly, the results are presented as the only outcome possible rather than one of many possible outcomes.

Of course this is wrong on many levels.

The Reality of Becoming Parents

Having children brings about, of course, a huge change in a couple’s life, but rather than analysing why it is so, the overall conversation around this topic—and the conclusion this article ends with—draws a line of causality between having children and unhappy marriages.  What we are failing to do is to look at the context within which having children brings about unhappy marriages.  When we place this relationship within a vacuum, we ignore a wealth of other causes and, therefore, a significant number of solutions that are within our reach to make sure that the decision of having children strengthens our marriages.

Failing to do so limits our view of reality and, most importantly, robs us of the ability to figure out how to achieve a different outcome.

Some of the Things That Are Being Ignored: Marital Strength Pre-Parenting

First off, it would be interesting to analyse how strong the marriage of “miserable” parents was in the first place—there is, after all, a known, steady breakdown of the sacredness and importance of marriage.  The number of couples getting married with the thought that, should things become tough, there is a way out (a.k.a. divorce) is increasing.

The influences of society that encourage a self-centered, ego-driven view of the world also sap marriages of the selflessness both parties need to evince to make a marriage strong and happy.  Furthermore, the drive for material wealth saps the couples of energy to focus on more important things; instead of having dinner together as a family, for example, parents will be doing overtime or answering work emails at the dinner table.

What would happen to the data if we were to focus only on couples who act on a belief that marriage is sacred, on couples that do not believe in divorce as an option, who strive to be selfless, and who are not focused on the increase of material wealth?

Some of the Things That Are Being Ignored: The Breakdown of the Extended Family Unit and of Community Life

Second, it would be interesting to study the relationship between how “miserable” parents have become over the years and the breakdown of the extended family unit, as well as the breakdown of community life in general.  Both of these traditional forms of support are known to provide the best protection against many negative life events and experiences, including an unhealthy marriage and weak parenting.  Are parents who have a strong and positive relationship with their extended family as unhappy in their marriage as those who do not have such a relationship?  What of parents who are members of a vibrant community versus those who do not have strong connections within theirs?

Some of the Things That Are Being Ignored: The Decline of Our Spiritual Health

Third, it would be interesting to correlate the steady decline in a strong spiritual life with the increase in how “miserable” parents have become.  Many studies have shown that an individual’s overall happiness is intimately tied with his or her level of spiritual dedication and discipline.  It isn’t too far of a stretch to wonder if “miserable” parents are less engaged in their spiritual lives than those who are happy.

Parenting and Marital Happiness: How This Article Should Have Read

The saddest thing about this article is that it provides a wealth of information on how parents can have a happy marriage—if only the data was analysed through a more optimistic lens.  It also would be so much more of an empowering read if the article focused on how the data it presents can be used to change the fact that so many couples state being less happily married after having children.  Because fact remains that there are many parents out there who do become happier once they have children.  Why not focus on helping all parents get to that point, rather than making the miserable parents the norm?

Petitions and Boycotts: Why I Am Boycotting Nestlé Products

The transformation of the world from its current state to a place where every individual can participate actively in their personal material and spiritual development as well as contribute to the progress of humankind as a whole is going to need the upending of a lot of things—and I mean, a lot.  This means that we need to do more than just sit around and point at the things that are wrong, or to superficially address various issues through petitions and boycotts.

However, I also think that there is a place for petitions and boycotts—as long as they do not count for the bulk of our contributions to social transformation.  I personally have and will continue to sign petitions and boycott specific things.  The latest to have made the list of things I boycott is Nestlé, in an attempt to contribute to chipping away at unethical corporate practices.  As a number of readers have asked me about this decision of mine, I decided to share some of my reasons for boycotting Nestlé in the hopes of engaging more of you in this important and interesting discussion.

Most, If Not All Companies Have Unethical Practices, But Nestlé’s Are Too Blatant To Ignore

The level and scope of Nestlé’s unethical practices are too blatant to ignore: from the CEO’s belief that water isn’t a human right and should be privatized—leading to Nestlé’s draining of water reserves even during droughts (which is happening in Ontario as well)—to infant formula and other foods holding dangerous levels of various toxins, there is a lot of scandal surrounding this company.  (You can test your anger management by watching the documentary Bottled Life!)

Granted, there are a lot of companies that are not as big and therefore not as investigated as Nestlé; and granted, as an individual, Nestlé’s unethical practices came to my attention through organizations such as SumofUs.  And granted, we have to be careful not to demonise anyone or any company.

However, I can’t sit by idly and do nothing at all.  By choosing to boycott at least one company, I am taking a small step into become a more conscious and conscientious consumer.  And a full transformation needs to start somewhere, even if that place is extremely small.

A Related Challenge: Finding Alternative Products

One of the benefits of engaging in this conscious boycott of Nestlé is that I have had to find viable, ethical alternatives to the products I am not allowing myself to buy anymore.  It’s tough, because Nestlé and its subsidiaries are everywhere!  But it has really helped broaden my perspective on a lot of associated issues and topics.

I have also had to reconsider my budget, ethical products being slightly more expensive than unethical ones.  This has allowed me to realise just how much I have been buying that I don’t actually need, contributing to building a simpler lifestyle.

It Gives Some Power To The People

Not that it has been or continues to be easy.  I am still at the beginning of this process and discover daily things that are contradictory between my beliefs and my purchases.  But it also has been an empowering process, as an increasing number of viable, ethical alternatives are available to me—and thus, to you.

The funny thing about empowerment is that it brings a significant amount of light even in the darkest of places.  And I can tell you that it is really nice, in the face of all the darkness in the world, to know that there is a little something that I am doing all the time to help bring light back into the world.

It Creates The Opportunity To Hold Important Conversations

Although I wish I had all the answers, I really don’t.  And neither does anyone else, for that matter.  What we do have are pieces of the answer—each one of us holds a little something that, when put together, will reveal the greater picture.  By engaging in concrete action, I am building a life that is different from that of those around me; this inspires questions which lead to some amazing, eye-opening conversations, that help all of us inch slowly but inexorably towards the truth.

And that, my friends, is very exciting indeed.

Mutual Support and Assistance in the Book Blogging World: My First Bloggiesta Experience

Bloggiesta September 2014I spent a large chunk of last weekend working on a list of blogging related tasks as part of Bloggiesta. Every couple of months, the website hosts an event during which a group of book bloggers take on certain tasks and complete them during a set number of days. Lists are posted on the website, mini-challenges are organised, and Twitter chats are attended.  By spending four days working at the same time on one’s blog, we can more easily connect with other book bloggers.  It aims to create an environment in which book bloggers can help each other in achieving goals.

While there are some limitations to online interactions as opposed to in person ones, Bloggiesta has been quite successful in creating an environment of mutual support and assistance. Bloggers commented on each other’s lists and offered not only encouragement, but advice. The Twitter chats were filled with good advice and encouragement, but also a good amount of healthy teasing (i.e. nothing close to bullying).

Another thing that I found interesting is how participants helped one another counteract any pressure to do things other than increasing the quality of their blog. This was quite significant, as statistics tend to become somewhat of an unhealthy obsession. There were quite a few conversations in which participants encouraged one another to focus on the book blogging, not on writing to get numbers up, knowing that the former would lead naturally to the latter. There was also a number of conversations focused on encouraging one another to remain polite, loving, and cheerful in the face of the abuse sometimes encountered at the hands of irate, frustrated authors.

All of this created a joyful environment in which both fun and light and profound and meaningful conversations happened, which in turn contributed to creating a space in which book bloggers could get back in touch with the reason they started blogging while at the same time, they gave and received honest advice on how they could improve their blogs.

Book blogging is already fun; you read and write about books. But book blogging within a group creates friendships which strengthen during intensive events like Bloggiesta. It also seems like thanks to these friendships, book bloggers are engaged in increasing numbers of enthusiastic conversations about their efforts, resulting in increased quality book blogs. It’s no wonder that participants return to Bloggiesta, and it’s no wonder then I will, too.

And now, onto NaNoWriMo!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 23 September 2014

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Did I Win? Some Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 came to a close on 30 November, but I was lucky enough to reach the goal a couple of days before. Although I don’t know if all of them will make the final cut, I managed to write over 50,000 words of the sequel to the Spirit Within Club. I had discussed at the beginning of the month how a great community can take all its members to places they never dreamed possible. I also reflected on how the internet allows an increasing number of people to be part of thousands of communities they would otherwise not even have access to. I also expressed the hope that the online NaNoWriMo community might trigger insights about the working of online communities in general.

Just like with my previous NaNoWriMo experience in 2008, it was quite enjoyable, to say the least. It was nice to have an objective I knew was being shared by so many others, and felt, in the forums, a sense of encouragement and mutual support. Writing blocks were quickly removed, and plot holes neatly filled by an online community of writers who, for the most part, had never met each other in person. I also loved e-meeting new authors. Should I be in a place where there are other NaNoWriMo-ers, I plan on meeting up with them at least once next year.

Winner-2014-Web-BannerI think it is also quite wise that the objective is not to come up necessarily with a last draft publication ready novel, but rather to put your first draft together. I worked on the sequel to the Spirit Within Club. I had prepared an outline prior to November, but realized halfway through the month that while I would be able to write 50,000 words, the book would need a lot of ironing. There are so many concepts packed in the second volume of this series that I found that most of my time taken up by research. How do you deal with the question of justice in the life of an eleven year-old Canadian child? How does a parent discipline one’s son who is misbehaving in a way that is empowering, rather than anger-inducing? How to you deal with an eleven year-old girl’s budding sexuality in a balanced, wise, moderate way? These are some heavy questions that I realized would have to wait a post NaNoWriMo life to answer, because my exponential progress had stalled halfway through the month.

Which brings up the question of how to participate in NaNoWriMo. I know that some fellow participants are most probably not going to make the 50,000 word goal because their writing methodology is not compatible with an initial burst of words that needs editing, sometimes heavy amounts of it. One friend of mine will rework a paragraph until it is perfect before moving on. He has yet to win NaNoWriMo, but he still participates every year and enjoys it very much. I feel he is much wiser than I am, having learned that the journey is much more important than the end result.

At times, I felt that my 2014 experience with NaNoWriMo reflects many lessons that all who have received a higher education have learned.   You have to prepare – the month-long writing is not something you can do in a vacuum. You have to prioritize – write the parts you know a lot about, and they will help you write the parts on the topics you don’t know much about. Working with some buddies who can reflect with you enhances the end result. But ultimately, you need to do what is best for you, engaging at a deep level in every aspect of writing your novel.

This year’s experience was completely different from the one I had six years ago, and each were enlightening in a different way. And with my first Bloggiesta experience earlier this year also quite successful (read about it here and here), it brings to mind that perhaps an online community can provide similar loving support as an “in real life” community.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 29 November 2014

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