I discovered that November is National Novel Writing Month three years and two kids ago. A fellow aspiring author and very talented writer Merina Green asked if I was going to participate and I said, “Sure, I’d love to! What is it?”
“Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.” —Nanowrimo.org
Perfect for me, right? I mean, aside from that deadline bit …
The Nanowrite site offers writers much needed pep talks from successful authors and other hopefuls alike. The site also allows you to track your progress through the month by updating your word count, gives you daily goals in order to reach your target of a completed first draft (or at least 50K), and can help you link up with a participating local Nanowri group. If you “win”, besides having a completed book to hone and refine and an incredible sense of accomplishment, you also receive a ribbon on the website. As a mother and a home educator, I can testify to the effectiveness of a good old fashioned sticker chart.
My upcoming release Recycled started off as my Nanowrite novel the first year I participated. It’s gone through quite the metamorphosis since then, but butterflies don’t appear on their own and neither do completed, polished novels. Every book you’ve ever read started somewhere. My latest began November 2011.
I wasn’t able to participate one November due to a trying pregnancy and sheer exhaustion. (Who knew growing humans is such hard work?) I missed the following due to two infants and I was still reeling from the loss of my father. Needless to say, I was very excited and hopeful going into this year’s Nanowrite.
I had a story.
I had a rough plotline.
I had the characters pretty well ironed out. (Or so I thought …)
I had a plan.
No actually, we had a plan. You see, for me to take every spare moment I can for a month and dedicate them to writing, my family has to be on board. And most of them were. Really, really. The men (full sized and mini) were all over it and very encouraging−even if they ate a lot of junk and my house wasn’t the shiniest place to live. Unfortunately, we failed to account for the shortest of the brood and their reactions to not having Mommy at their sticky little fingertips all day, every day.
But the kids weren’t the reason I failed to reach my goal.
The words just wouldn’t come. I could see the scene play out in my mind but when my fingertips were poised to type, nothing happened. Every couple hundred words felt like a huge achievement because of the struggle to get them on paper. I’ve read many people say that writing is like a muscle; you have to work it regularly if you want it to preform to your standards. Well, I’ve obviously let myself go … in more than one way.
It’s been over two years since I’ve written on a regular basis. Slowly I’ve been reclaiming some of my activities outside of my children over the last year, but it’s still very much a work in progress.
I was also a mess emotionally, which I should have expected but somehow failed to anticipate. I feel guilty taking time away from my family to pursue what amounts to a hobby at the moment. When I was with the kids, I couldn’t wait to escape to write, which just piled on more guilt and mom-shame. Extended family drama kept drawing me in−even from a thousand miles away. It was … life.
After a lot of little moping I’ve realized I’m okay with that. Writing is my newest love, but my family is my heart. Becoming a published author is my dream, but my family is my reality and infinitely more important. So if something needs to be pushed down a peg or two on my ladder of priorities, it’s not going to be the minions. It’s not going to be the husband. And that’s exactly as it should be at this point in my life.
I just hope I can remember that the next time I get frustrated at the constant “MOM!” interruptions …
My goal this month is to complete my 2014 Nanowrimo novel. For the sake of my kidneys, I’m also giving up Cokes. I’m not sure which is the more challenging of my two lofty goals, but March should be fun.
Wish me luck!