To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo for short). Thousands of writers around the world participate in this event and try to complete 50,000 word manuscripts of their novels by the end of November. That’s approximately 1,667 words a day.

When a fellow writer asked me if I was doing NaNoWriMo this year, I simply said ‘no’, because it sounded like such an enormous commitment. I had a compelling story waiting to be written, but I just wasn’t ready to write it during NaNo. Over the last few weeks procrastination had become my default mode. I had shamelessly wasted few weeks, allowing my ‘writer’s guilt’ eat me alive from inside .

Mahatma Gandhi had famously said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I searched for the source of my brief unhappiness (over these past few weeks) and realized that I was lacking harmony among my thoughts, words and actions.

Thinking about writing and talking about writing were not same as ‘writing’. That brought me back to this question: To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo?

To bring harmony among my thoughts, words and actions, I’ve decided to NaNoWriMo this year. There will be days when I’ll have little time or energy to write, but my goal will be to write as much as I can. A word on paper (or on computer screen) is always more valuable than a word still in my head or a word plagued by my own procrastination.

Happy NaNoWriMo! Happy writing!

May be Next Year

One more Dashain festival is about to slip away, reminding me of those colorful ‘Dashain moments’ from my past, triggering nostalgia so powerful that it almost makes me cry.

Though I couldn’t go home this Dashain, I haven’t forgotten home. In a far away city, I search for the colors of Dashain: deep red of Teeka, bright yellow of Jamara. I search for the sounds of Dashain: giggles of children around swings, Mangal Dhoon playing on the radio. And I search for the signs of prosperity Dashain brings: golden rice paddies caressed by ripples, guava and orange trees so laden with fruits that they bow like new brides.

In the Jamara I’ve planted in a corner of my rented apartment, I search for my roots. I tell myself that this cruel sand of time can’t bury my hope. So I reach out to those who, like me, couldn’t return home this Dashain.

In the evening after work, I’ll celebrate my own mini-Dashain. I’ll imagine myself as a ‘Dashain kid’ I once used to be. And I’ll sit down and hope to go home in Dashain…may be next year.

Dreaming in English

One day, my boss of ten years asked me about the transformation in my English. “How did you improve your English in such a short period of time?” he said. “Back then, I used to understand half of what you said. Now I understand all of it.”

Though I’d realized that my English (both written and spoken) had improved since I first came to the United States, I’d never thought much about it, partly because my English was (and still is) far from where I want it to be.

I attributed any improvement in my English to time and practice. “Ten years is not a short period of time,” I said to my boss. “I think you just got used to my English.” He shook his head, and that made me think.

When I first came to the United States in late May of 1998, I’d left all my friends and family behind in Nepal. I remember wondering how I was going to survive in a country where I knew not a single soul. In those early days, I was, like millions of fellow immigrants, lonely and homesick.

My dreams (and daydreams) were filled with people I loved but had left behind. In my dreams, I was still back home, talking to and laughing with them. Obviously, the language of my dreams was Nepali.

As time passed, I opened up to the people of this new world: my new friends, classmates, professors, co-workers, and many other people who often come in a person’s life. These people now began to appear in my dreams. As you can guess, they didn’t speak Nepali; therefore I couldn’t speak Nepali with them.

I’ve come to this conclusion that my English must have taken a noticeable leap (in addition to a slow, continuous improvement) around the time when I’d begun dreaming in English. In dreams, one hardly has an accent or any hesitation.  

As a writer striving to master this language, I sure have many more hours to sleep, many more dreams to dream–some in English, some in Nepali.

Now let’s hear your stories about ‘dreaming in English’ , or dreaming in some other languages.