Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

This post may appear to be in direct conflict with yesterday's, about my genuine moment of revelatory freedom where I realized that I'm doing okay, balancing everything in my life and still managing to relax and not feel guilty, but that was yesterday, and now it's a new day. On the weekend, an incident occurred between Jason and I, and I realized that the issue we argued about is not isolated to our marriage alone, and that it would make an interesting topic for a novel.

That thought rolled around in my mind for a few days, and I jotted a couple of notes, figuring I'd get to it some year when my screenplay and memoir are completely finished (is any piece of writing ever completely done?). Then I received an e-mail from a friend at our wonderful local library, informing me about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a non-profit international writing event which has been occurring for the past eleven years in various forms, but always encouraging writers to pen the first draft of a novel from start to finish in thirty days time.

I looked up the website at and loved the idea of an international community of writers posting their page counts daily, receiving mass pep talks, and all trying to get to the goal of 50000 words by November 30th. My internal dialogue went something like this, "Yup, this is a great idea, I wish I had known about it earlier, or had planned for it. Maybe some November I'll have more time to try a novel. Right now I've got to finish my memoir and the latest draft of my script and try to do something with those in the marketplace."

I went about my business with this internal dialogue happening, and eventually I was flat-out arguing with myself. "Yes, I know I just had this spark of an idea that would make a great novel, but I'm trying to take on less, not more, and the idea will keep." In the end, the concept behind NaNoWriMo simply wouldn't leave me alone, and I realized that I could accept the challenge with myself, jump start my writing again, and not beat myself up if I can't manage to write 50000 pages in the next 26 days.

So I went on the website, created a profile and a description for the novel that is currently in my head, and got up early yesterday morning to start in. I had the first line and nothing more, but after that first line, the usual miracle of writing took over, and I was off to the races, with the ideas coming faster than my fingers could type them.

I had coffee with a friend in the morning, played a bit with William, ate lunch with him, and while he watched his afternoon movie (Stuart Little from the library), I wrote some more, and ended up with a total of 2000 words before we walked to get Ava from school at 3 pm. 2000 words is a long way from the end goal of 50000, but 2000 is better than zero, which is where I would've been before the NaNoWriMo challenge found me.

I feel hopeful about this because I heard the still, small voice, and followed it in spite of my valid misgivings. I have that feeling that it's the right time to try a novel, even if it's not convenient at all. Life is rarely convenient. It's always getting in the way of what we most want to accomplish. But sometimes we need to risk in spite of it all; to try something that seems crazy, even to ourselves, but feels right somehow.

I can only do my best to meet this goal, and not ignore my kids, my husband or my friends in order to complete it. The daily prioritizing of tasks and people doesn't change. I still need to get better at it, but taking something like this on and having it feel fun instead of like a burden is the first sign that I was supposed to try it. I love that I feel different enough inside to know that I'm going to do my best, and no more, and not waste time feeling guilty for what I'm unable to give.

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