Once upon a time, there was a girl who was very bad at being sad. Life was often sad for her, as it is for everyone, and she would reflect on the sadness, let it envelop her, and accept it. But she was a little too sanguine to do it well.
When she spoke of her sadness, loneliness, or her cage, she thought she was being wise. Yet everyone around her was brought not insight, but pain. Not swift understanding, but depression. They felt sorry for her, in an aimless sort of way, because her sad words brought them no direction.
Because her charism was not to be sad. It was not to reflect on the melancholy truths of life. It was not to stay confined in the bars of her cage.
No! For it was to find beauty, in even the darkest moments. It was to find joy, in even the grimmest disappointments. It was to find hope when hope seemed out of reach. Because when she was alone, she was never alone. And when she was in pain, it was a redemptive pain. And when she was trapped, it was a nurturing cage.
And when she was happy, the world was happy also. And when she was joyful, then people rejoiced with her.
And when she was healthy, she swept them up in a tide of glorious living, and carried them with her, through the bitterest of storms. This was her calling. This was her charism. And it was this that she set out to embrace, accept, and spread.
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Hey everyone, it’s been almost a week since you’ve heard from me, and I wanted to be honest about why that is, and why I haven’t been keeping up with my NaNoWriMo Challenge.
As you may know, I chose not to pursue writing a novel this year – although I’ve done it the past two years. I just finished a novel, and wanted to pour my energies into editing and preparing it for publishing. So I chose to do a poetry challenge instead – see if I could learn proper metre the same way I might learn a new language. To pursue this goal, I started reading The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry, and I completed about 6 challenges – less than one total week of NaNoWriMo.
Then I fell off the grid. For a complete week, I did no poetry, and posted nothing related to NaNoWriMo.
Do I feel guilty? Yes. Should I? No.
Here’s the thing. In those 6 days that I actually participated in the challenge, I learned more about poetry than I did in 4 years of classical high school, and another 4 years pursuing a Liberal Arts degree.
In no way is that a loss!
Why I Failed
Life just got in the way, you know? It does for all of us, and each of our problems are unique. Personally, I’m plagued by Myalgic Encephalitis, and am constantly confined to bed with migraines, near paralysis, and brain fog. That makes writing near impossible at times, and last week was particularly bad.
But other problems are just as legitimate. Sometimes a kid gets sick, a pet dies, our spouse struggles and needs all our attention. Sometimes a friend needs us more than our writing.
We could beat ourselves up over this and say these are just excuses – we could say we should be able to write despite all that. And lots of times, that’s true! It’s important to pursue our writing whenever possible, and make time in our day for it. But when we have done all we could, and life still had thrown a wrench in our perfect plans, then regretting what we could not control, and beating ourselves up for it, helps nothing.
Changing Our Outlook
We need to embrace our weaknesses and distractions, and appreciate the work we did anyway! Despite my erratic illness, I learned iambic pentameter! AND, my love and appreciation of poetry had vastly increased! I was inspired to listen to all of Twelfth Night the other day just because I was so newly excited about poetry. That’s a win, if you ask me!
Any work you got done on NaNoWriMo this year is a plus. It has reintroduced you to writing, or reminded you how much you could write in a day. It has connected you with other writers, or re-ignited your passion. Any of those results makes this month of November a win!
We should never let the chance of failing keep us from benefiting from the journey. So please join me this week in celebrating the failures that lead to success!
What did you accomplish this month so far? In what way has it helped you? I want to hear your wins — no matter how different they might be than what you expected! Share your failures and wins on instagram and twitter with the handle #Nanofailtowin, and let’s support each other in life and in this final stretch of writing!
I’ve always been curious about this poem. I love the artwork and play/films it has inspired, but I confess that the classic-ness of the poem eludes me. Maybe it’s because it’s John Milton – I’ve never been able to really enjoy him.
This poem is nice, and pleasant to read, but it doesn’t stir my heart and wrench my gut like most classic poetry. But I wanted to share it, just to see if, by investing in it, I can appreciate it the way Arthur Rackham clearly did. Enjoy his gorgeous illustrations!
Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that livst unseen
Within thy airy shell
By slow Meander’s margent green,
And in the violet imbroider’d vale
Where the love-lorn Nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad Song mourneth well.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle Pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O if thou have
Hid them in som flowry Cave,
Tell me but where
Sweet Queen of Parly, Daughter of the Sphear,
So maist thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heavns Harmonies
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honour’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.
Listen and appear to us
In name of great Oceanus,
By the earth-shaking Neptune’s mace,
And Tethys grave majestick pace,
By hoary Nereus wrincled look,
And the Carpathian wisards hook,
By scaly Tritons winding shell,
And old sooth-saying Glaucus spell,
By Leucothea’s lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis tinsel-slipper’d feet,
And the Songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope’s dear tomb,
And fair Ligea’s golden comb,
Wherwith she sits on diamond rocks
Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance,
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosie head
From thy coral-pav’n bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have.
Listen and save.
Sabrina rises, attended by water-Nymphes, and sings.
By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the Willow and the Osier dank,
My sliding Chariot stayes,
Thick set with Agat, and the azurn sheen
Of Turkis blew, and Emrauld green
That in the channell strayes,
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O’re the Cowslips Velvet head,
That bends not as I tread,
Gentle swain at thy request
I am here.
Spirit. Goddess dear
We implore thy powerful band
To’ undo the charmed band
Of true Virgin here distrest,
Through the force, and through the wile
Of unblest inchanter vile.
Sabrina Shepherd, ’tis my office best
To help insnared chastity.
Brightest Lady look on me,
Thus I sprinkle on thy brest
Drops that from my fountain pure,
I have kept of pretious cure,
Thrice upon thy fingers tip
Thrice upon thy rubied lip,
Next this marble venom’d seat
Smear’d with gumms of glutenous heat
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold,
Now the spell hath lost his hold;
And I must haste ere morning hour
To wait in Amphitrite’s bowr.