A Welcome Break and NaNoWriMo

Well, it’s time to break my month-long silence. I’m just going to free-write this piece and post it as is. Keep it a bit raw and work out the chinks while I write.

ICLP has been very rewarding but it has swallowed up my life. Last week was my seventh week in the program and I have been told that we are now learning on a second year college level. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I do feel like my Chinese has grown by leaps and bounds. I must admit that ICLP has rightfully earned its reputation. I’m astonished by how much I’ve learned in a little under two months.

There are no classes this upcoming week, instead it will be Language Mission Week. Every student is required to do two activities. The goal is to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and use your Chinese in a practical way. For instance, on Wednesday I will be going to make tofu here in Taipei and the recipe, instructions, everything will be in Chinese. A tiny bit intimidating but certainly useful.

My life encapsulated in a book.

My life encapsulated in a book.

This week off also allows me to catch up on my annual National Novel Writing Month endeavor. This is my fourth non-consecutive year attempting to write a novel in month. Over the years, I have completed three books, but I found none of them to be good enough, but I think learning Chinese has tapped me into a different creative source.

This novel will obviously been written in English and I do have some concern that it will take away from my Mandarin learning, but I really want to keep up my enthusiasm. Writing is my first passion and my life would be a bit hollow if I cut it out of my life. While I want the lion’s share of my energy to be dedicated to continued study, I don’t want to burn out and so I need to keep my other passions alive.

I will close by talking a bit about the NaNoWriMo experience. I think everyone should try it. Obviously, it appeals to aspiring writers like myself, but the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days is an accomplishment that I think everyone would value. I find that some people have the same attitude towards writing that they have towards math: I’m not good at it and it’s meant for other people. Just like everyone can do math, everyone can write. Everyone has a story to tell. Even if you have no desire to ever get it published or have a single person read it, you will have written a novel! How many people can say they did that? It’s like running a marathon; a bucket list item for people.

Anyway, I really am disappointed in myself for letting this blog fall off in regularity, but I guess it was inevitable in such an intense environment. With this week off and NaNoWriMo upon us, hopefully, I can update more often about my experiences, especially on these language missions.

Am I crazy for trying to write a novel AND keep up with such an intense program? Several of my classmates have told me resoundingly YES. Maybe being crazy is what keeps me sane.

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. You can also send your comments to thenonicheblog@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at John_S20.