In light of this, I've decided to say what I'm thankful for.
1. My family and that no one was hurt because of the storm. We lost power for about a week and our lives were inconvenienced because of it but no one was hurt and my wife, son and I are healthy. Growing up in Hong Kong, I've experienced some difficult storms (like Typhoon Ellen in 1983 and Typhoon Hope in 1979) but, and perhaps this is because I'm older and a parent with people who rely on me and not a teenager, I'll admit that I was nervous about Sandy. Hearing those winds, I prayed nonstop that nothing was going to come flying through our windows.
2. I'm thankful, that even though the NYC Marathon was cancelled at the eleventh hour and I couldn't run it, for the improvements in my fitness that I gained from training. I'm also, on some level, grateful that the marathon was cancelled because, at the time, I was uncertain about whether I'd even be able to finish it this time around (it would've been my third NYCM and fourth marathon, overall). The last six weeks of training, I'd started to develop severe pains in my lower back and both hips and I was very concerned that I may have injured myself if I'd run it. I still have to see a doctor about these pains, and perhaps some kind of surgery may be required (I hope not but I've been researching and, based on
National Novel Writing Month. I'd hear of this every year, seeing tweets and reading blog posts but I never threw my hat into it until this year. And, I'm thankful for it. Since my first novel came out, last February, I've been sporadic in my writing. Some of that, I think, is from 'sophomore book blues' and some is just from being busy and, when life gets in the way, there are only so many hours in a day that writing sometimes is neglected. NaNoWriMo, though, has forced me to commit. My second novel, the first in a Chinese-American YA fantasy series, is starting to take shape. It's a story I started thinking about and working on in 2007 that is and I'm happy - and relieved - that it's coming along.
NaNoWriMo is a challenge. It's not as easy as it sounds - writing nonstop, suppressing one's inner editor, and pushing out 50K plus words to a first draft. If you're like me, and I think many writers doing NaNoWriMo are, you have a full-time job, a second job (and I haven't even included promoting my published book in that mix) and a family, generating time and energy to write almost 1700 words a day can be a challenge. But, that's what makes it special. That's what makes those who are able to complete the challenge say "I've won!" with the right to do so.
So, I'm grateful for The Office of Letters and Light, the group that created and runs NaNoWriMo. Not only have they created this creature that helps writers gain momentum in their projects, it also gives me a taste of a writer's life. I already live one, insofar that I write everyday with the purpose of producing work for other people to read, enjoy, learn from, etc. I write this blog and I try to write the standard 1000 words that most people say should be the minimum a writer should produce daily. With the honour of being able to say "I've won!" however, NaNoWriMo has kept me on a pretty good schedule and, when I sit down facing my laptop, whether at the local Barnes & Nobel Cafe or in my living room office, I feel that I'm sitting down at a job about to put in my day's fill.
The last three days, however, have been hell. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were packed with obligations and other duties that I never got to write. I did some planning and research, which is part of a writer's duties, but I didn't get to add to my 50K word count. And, that made me anxious and angry. I've always put my writing pursuits high on my list of priorities in my life, and I still venture to being able to give up my day job to become a working and paid writer, but through NaNoWriMo the desire for that has been reinforced. It never waned but now it's more than something I know I want. It's become something I need to have. I know I'm treading on dangerous ground because if I fail I'll be devastated but, for the first time, writing isn't just something that I thought existed solely in my head and in my gut. I discovered that it's something that pours forth from my heart.
In many ways this epiphany may not have happened without Hurricane Sandy. Since there was nothing else to do - no TV to watch, no Wii to play, no gas - and just my imagination - in the car to take me anywhere far and exciting - I sat down at my laptop and wrote. When my church, a mile or so from home, opened its doors for those without power at home to charge devices and access the internet, I was there researching and writing.
All my life I've called myself a martial artist. And, I am. It's the one thing I've done and believed in that I've continued to do since I was sixteen. I'm forty-three now. I believe the things I've learnt through my training - sacrifice, patience, enduring and overcoming challenges, battles with fear - have helped me in every successful pursuit I've undertaken. They've also helped me handle all the disappointments I've faced. Because of how they make me feel and what I feel about them, martial arts have 'made' me and, so, I call myself a martial artist. Today, with my enlightenment about writing and how it makes me feel alive and life isn't the same - it's worse - without my being able to do it, I call myself a writer. I used to say "I write." Now, I've become what I do.