For those of you not familiar with Catholic hijinks, Lent is a season stretching from Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) to Easter (roughly forty days). Usually we give something up or do something above and beyond what we would do in our normal daily life. As I kid, I didn't really like Lent. My parents would usually MAKE me do something like giving up Nintendo (harsh!) or was there one year we actually attempted giving up TV as a family??? If we did, I blocked that Lent out due to trauma.
In recent years though, I have actually gotten some valuable life changes out of it. The first big Lent I had was my sophomore year in college. It was a big year for me. I was teaching religious ed. classes at the private Catholic school in Iowa City (Regina), I sponsored a good friend going through the RCIA program (to join the Church), and I was a leader and participant in several retreats at the Newman Catholic Center. I wanted that year's Lent to be a BIG one. One Lent tradition for Catholics is to not eat meat on fridays. I decided to give up meat altogether. I wasn't really thinking of becoming a vegetarian permanently, but that is what ended up happening. And I have been all the happier for it ever since.
My Junior year of college, I was in Rome for the spring semester. Obviously, the Easter season is a big deal there. The city turns into a mecca for the six weeks of Lent. It is insane. I saw the Pope, went to Good Friday Mass at the Vatican, and walked through Saint Peter's Square on a near daily basis.
Last spring, when I had already graduated, I took up my running habit from my cross country days in high school. I hadn't run consistently since I had gone to college and thought the semester off would be a good time to work a running routine back into my DNA. Lent was the perfect excuse to force myself to do it, and a year later, I completed my first half marathon.
What does this have to do with writing? Well, now you see where I am going: Lent. It's a great way to force yourself to do things. And I seem to take it fairly seriously. Maybe it is self manipulation to do something that I know I should be doing anyway, but if it works, it works. I think I can write one short story per week. When Lent is over, I will have six (albeit probably rough) short stories. I wrote a 12 page short story in more or less one day last week, and feel like I have caught a writing bug that I need to take advantage of before it goes away for another string of months! Is this crazy or even doable? Talk to me on Easter. Also, now that I have declared my intentions (or shall we say Lententions???), I have to adhere to them. Shucks. Happy Lenting.