The words of the old hymn caught my ear as I fiddled with the church bulletin and struggled to settle in to the Sunday service, mentally, physically and spiritually. Some Sunday mornings are like that, after all. The cross hangs … Continue reading
It’s November, and you know that means?
Never mind that there are only seven weekends until Christmas.
Never mind that your carpets need cleaning for your Thanksgiving guests.
There are only 30 days left to write at least 50,000 words of my next novel!
That’s because November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.
In case you’re wondering what the heck that is, here’s a few NaNoWriMo facts:
According to their website, NaNoWriMo believes stories matter. The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
- 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
- 803 volunteer Municipal Liaisons guided 615 regions on six continents.
- 849 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
- 55,774 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.
Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder…
Yes, both of my novels’ wee little, pitiful, awful, humble first drafts began during NaNoWriMo.
While I, like most of you, have too much on my plate during the last months of the year, there are a few good reasons why I participate in the craziness of NaNoWriMo. Notice I said I participate. I have never actually achieved the end goal of 50,000 words, but I have written decent amounts, and that, for me, is enough. After all, a novel has to start someplace.
So if you’re wondering about my good reasons, here they are:
What could be more motivating than knowing over a quarter of a million other nuts like me are also writing their heads off? That over a quarter of a million other freaks are pouring their unrefined streams of consciousness onto paper? That over a quarter of a million other insane souls are drinking great vats of coffee and pushing and clawing and groveling their way through thirty nerve-wracking days to create the next great American novel? Only NaNoWriMo can motivate like that.
In case you haven’t noticed, writers are a special breed. We are introverts and hermits. You’ll find us on the fringes of society and the back rows of churches. We hog prime space in coffee houses and wear beanies and have piercings and inhale chocolate and feel like Allison in The Breakfast Club is our intellectual soul mate. But put us in a room (virtual or otherwise) with other writers, and we come alive. We laugh at jokes about commas and grammar. We raise our fists at the unjust fame of E.L. James’ crappy prose. We go on wild chases after muses and boys in basements. And we believe again in the dream that story–perhaps even our wee little, pitiful, awful, humble story–can change the world.
You think dogs and squirrels are bad. Let me tell you, I am the poster child for the distracted mind. What, between laundry and Pinterest, three teenagers and as many dogs, bills and my day job, books I have to read and books I want to read, Instagram and the cursed emergence of adult coloring books, there is no end to my inability to focus on writing. NaNoWriMo really helps me sit my butt in the chair and put my fingers on the keyboard.
Despite the fact that I just spent the entire previous paragraph lamenting my affinity towards distraction, NaNoWriMo actually provides me with a welcome distraction. From all my distractions.
NaNoWriMo is fun. Even if I don’t hit my 50,000 word count goal, reasons 1-4 are reason enough to take the time and energy to try. At the end of November, it won’t doesn’t matter if my manuscript is hot mess. It won’t matter if my characters are flat and my prose is full of cliche’s and my plot is full of holes. What matters…
…what always matters…
is that I…that we…have written.
(Besides that, I have a deadline for my fourth published novel due in the spring! WAHOOOO!!!!)
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d like to offer you these parting words from Anne LaMott as we sojourn into the remaining thirty days:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott,
That’s why I NaNo.
How about you?
And here are my 2/3 dogs and laundry, which will continue to be neglected for the next thirty days:
Perception often differs from reality.
Take the writing life, for instance.
If you’re tempted to think it’s a glamorous lifestyle, think not just pajamas, but the same pajamas, three days in a row, with maybe an occasional tooth brushing in there somewhere.
My dogs stare at me all day long, wishing I’d take them for a walk.
My husband does a lot of the cooking, 1) because he’s an amazing cook and 2) because he realized you can’t feed teenagers solely waffles and Pop-Tarts.
But don’t take my word for it.
Just ask my kids.
(Note: I don’t post pictures, information, or the names of my kiddos online, so they’re identified by birth order: O = the oldest, M = middle, and Y = the youngest. They’re all teenagers and they’re every bit as astute and hilarious and convicting as their answers indicate.)
1) What’s the best thing about having a mom who writes books?
O: We get to read her books before anyone else.
M: She could be famous.
Y: I like to think that my mom has done something big in the world.
2) What’s the worst thing about having a mom who writes books?
O: She gets really stressed out and worried whenever one of her deadlines gets close.
M: She doesn’t feed me at night. Just kidding. I’d say, probably the writing all the time, I guess.
Y: I don’t like her being on her computer all the time, even though I’m on my computer all the time.
3) Your mom writes about some pretty serious topics sometimes. How does that make you feel?
O: I think that she writes about topics that are either rarely discussed or topics that people try to avoid even though the topics she writes about are incredibly relevant and important and today’s world.
M: That’s cool she’s passionate.
Y: That’s cool. And I become interested in the topics she’s writing about.
4) What sort of book do you wish your mom would write?
O: I think that the types of books she’s writing right now is perfect. I honestly can’t see her writing anything other than christian fiction.
M: Historical fiction, like The Jungle or The Great Gatsby.
Y: Historical fiction, an alternate version of reality in history, like instead of George Washington saying “no” to becoming a king, he says “yes” to being a king and it would show what America would be like.
5) What are some of your mom’s worst or weirdest writing habits?
O: Her weirdest writing habits would have to be the absurd amount of coffee she drinks whenever she’s writing.
Y: Editing all of my school essays.
6) What’s the one thing you wish people who read your mom’s books would know about what it’s like to have her for a mom?
O: I want people to know that it’s hard to write a book and that sometimes a writer needs their space in order to come up with ideas. We’ve had to learn how to deal with that situation a few times and it has taught our family to be patient and caring whenever she’s trying to finish her writing.
M: I dunno.
Y: It’s fun, but it’s boring.
Ahhh, out of the mouths of babes!
So you see, I don’t have it all together.
Not anywhere close.
And I clearly drink too much coffee.
What do YOU want to know about the life of a writer?
Post or email me a question and I’d be glad to answer it on one of my future posts!