Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: A Thread of Thankfulness

Last year was the first time I entered National Novel Writing Month. I got my 50,000 words written -- just squeaked by at the 11th hour -- but the book still remains to be finished. With any luck, that will happen during NaNo this year.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of NaNo '09, though at times I felt that I was taking a month-long break from reality. At other times, I questioned my sanity because reality refused to take a break from me. Last November for instance:

  • The book I was under contract for went to the publisher. This, of course, required the tying up of the myriad little editing loose ends that always accompany a major co-authoring project.
  • The school calendar included an entire week of half-days, which significantly impacted my writing plans. (It's a widely accepted fact that it's easier to be creative WITHOUT a six-year old hanging over one's shoulder asking to see what one is writing...)
  • The choir that I directed added additional practice days in preparation for our annual Christmas cantata the second week of December.
  • My family & I went on a 3-day Thanksgiving trip to a ginormous waterpark -- which significantly impacted my ability to say "I'm going to go write now" with any real credibility.
Now, for me, NaNo is as much a part of Thanksgiving as eating too much on the final Thursday of the month.  NaNo and Thanksgiving are inextricably intertwined in my mind.  Few things make me more thankful than having the time to write.  And a concentrated month of my family supporting my crazy career path only fuels my thankfulness.

I am so thankful to Robert, my wonderful husband, and my very good friend Chari, who read as I wrote last year and clamored for more chapters. They pushed me to keep writing -- even when I got around word 30,000 or so and became convinced that my doing NaNo was an exercise in generating crap.

Robert has always been my biggest fan. He has known of the story I am writing (in all its permuations) for years. Chari, on the other hand, is completely unfamiliar with the material. She's my "newest fan." Both of them kept me going.

This year, I was considering three different projects for NaNo.  Both Robert & Chari chose for me: they insisted that I finish the novel I started last year.  (Chari pitched a rather remarkable fit about the evils of writers who force their avid readers "to wait an entire freaking year to find out what happens.")

It pains me to admit that last year I plugged along with the project for awhile, but against my own advice ended up editing what I'd written instead of finishing the thing. Then I allowed Real Life and other projects to pull me off track.  This year, the 50K that NaNo requires will be just the thing to finish it.

I am also thankful for the students I've worked with who took the time to let me know that I was of use to them in some way. Last year at least three fellow NaNo contestants participated because I mentioned the contest in one of my workshops & encouraged students to sign up.  None of the three had ever written anything lengthy before, and all three finished!  Sometimes all a writer needs is someone to think he or she is up to a particular challenge. I love being that person!

And so, as this November looms, bringing its own bag of challenges, here's to all my writer friends -- especially those of you who are ready to jump into NaNo with both feet. May you continually find yourself surrounded with those who encourage you to grow, who support your dreams, and who fill you with thankfulness!

Are you a writer who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year?  Good luck! I invite you to take a moment to leave a note of thanks to those who you are most thankful for.

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