November 25, 2019


For the last decade, November has been sort of a second spring.

As a guy who prepares taxes for a living, there are two major seasons during the year. The first crush of work/hours is to make the March 15th and April 15th deadlines, and the second is the extension deadlines of September and October 15th.

After the spring deadlines, we take a breather, get out of town for a bit, but there is still a bunch of work to do over the summer to make the fall deadlines less brutal. After the October 15th deadline, the tax year is really over. Well, mostly but there really is much less to do. This is the time when all those things I ignored and which faded into the background for much of the year suddenly move out of the shadows to be seen. There are days of office cleaning, scanning and shredding prior year stuff to make room for the current year's paperwork, doctors appointments are made, car maintenance is taken care of, etc.

It is the same thing on the home front. After weeks of long hours and few days off, it is time for (second) spring cleaning. After catching up on sleep and arriving home during daylight hours, you see your home in a different light. First, there are cobwebs. Everywhere. There is a large stack of newspapers I haven't read, but couldn't quite admit I wasn't going to get to. I only get the paper on Sundays, but the stack was still pretty high. Similarly there is a large backlog of books I want to read, but since most of them are on the Kindle or still at the library, the stack is less obvious. My desk is covered in receipts and I haven't balanced my checkbook since the end of the previous year. I reconcile other people's books all year, but can't seem to get to my own, like a carpenter that can't seem to find the time to finish the baseboard in his house. It is satisfying to dig into it, but man the list of set aside projects is long.

The other November re-birth for the past decade has been about writing. It began with that first Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2010. The other Sean threw down the gauntlet to join in the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month and I could not ignore his enthusiasm. I made that 50,000 word deadline and came away with a novel that first year. However, I have attempted it a few other times but have not been able to recapture the magic.

I have been on the Nanowrimo mailing list since that first year, and the encouraging emails start rolling in each year around early September. This year a singer I follow was going to take it on and she encouraged me to join. November comes and I have the time and mental space to imagine taking it on again.  Like in previous years though, I did not have a sufficient idea to pursue, but also as in previous years, November sparked something inside that made me want to clear away the mental dust that I had let gather.

Back when I was writing more consistently, I carried around a little notebook to jot down ideas that crossed my mind. Now the notes are jotted down on a phone app when they appear, but they appear less often. To no one's surprise, part of the reason is the phone itself. Moments when I previously let my mind wander are now occupied by the world behind the small screen I carry around. There are fewer creative thoughts because I don't make time for them. When I am busy I can make the excuse that my mind is full, but not in November.

Several nights this month I have been reading old posts, and going through the note-taking apps on my phone. I have found posts that I am proud of, and little snippets of scenes I jotted down for possible stories that make me smile with possibility. It reminds me that there was something in there once, and that it could be there again if I allow the time, make the space, and do the work I have been neglecting.

No comments: