It seems I'm flat out of words.
It's possible that I used them all up for NaNoWriMo, right along with my energy and health. Within a half hour of writing my fifty thousandth word a head cold rolled over me.
Only a couple of weeks ago my reflexologist advised me to take things easy, because it could take up to three years to fully recover from a burnout - provided that a full recovery is even possible. She explained herself further by referencing Chinese medicine and giving me the following example:
When we are born we are outfitted with a backpack. The backpack contains an allotted amount of firewood - just enough to provide us with energy for a full lifetime. If at some juncture of our lives we use up more firewood because we want our fire to burn brighter - i.e. work more, sleep less, and overachieve - than we're going to be flat out of that firewood later on.
Her advice was quite clear. For one I'd already wasted a good amount of firewood and I would be unlikely to recover what I'd lost. Also I would have to carefully re-allot the firewood that's left in my backpack and use its energy wisely from now on.
The picture of that backpack stayed with me. But I realize now that I summarily dismissed her warning that I may not have fully recovered yet.
During NaNoWriMo I pushed myself through migraines and fatigue to reach the goal I'd set myself. I acted as if I had an unlimited amount of strength and energy at my disposal, which I would have had if I had completely recovered from my burnout. The joke was on me.
I realize now that while I've become massively more active than I was a year ago, I've still been managing my resources very carefully, alternating periods of activity with adequate stages of rest and recovery. That is probably the main reason why I'd been feeling as if I were my old fiery self, when in reality I'm still on the path to - hopefully full - recovery.
The head cold was my body's way of showing me the error of my ways. If I'm honest, though, I'd noticed even before the sneezing frenzy began, that last year's companions were back: fatigue and joint pains had set in. I payed them no heed and just pushed myself harder.
I've been asked if I will participate in NaNoWriMo again next year. Yes, of course I will.
I've met so many other writers, people who are as passionate about story telling as I am, people who set store by the written words - a community where mutual support and encouragement is the rule. I wouldn't miss it for the world.
But - and this is a reminder for myself - I will do it differently. I will not aim for the 50,000-word goal. I will begin a new novel and I will keep up a daily writing practice all through November. But it will not necessarily amount to the requisite 1,667 words per day. If I win, then good for me. But should I happen to fall a couple thousand words short of winning NaNoWriMo, then so be it.
I'm committed to burning my firewood judiciously.
The fire might not burn equally bright, but it might just be all the more durable for it.