NaNoWriMo’s Successful Dismal Attempt


The National Novel Writing Month known as NaNoWriMo is quickly coming to an end.  For some this was the year of your novel.  You finished your life’s dream.  Congratulations!

However, for others this could be the end of yet another failed attempt to do something.  Perhaps this is your first year, or this was a multiple attempt year to beat the 50,000 word deadline by the end of November.  Regardless of how many attempts, the feeling of defeat can paralyzing.  Unless you look at it as a sign that you are uniquely special.  After all, how many other people do you know are crazy enough to publically say they will write a novel in a month?  Not many I bet, and that makes you pretty special.

This was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, and I failed successfully well.  I could create the excuse that there was a lot going on this month.  Actually there really was too much going on this month.  My kids had activities, the husband was traveling a lot and when he was home there was this sense of urgency to spend time with him before he left for work again, oh and there were all those social media outlets I needed to keep up with especially the groups I help manage, and let’s not forget Thanksgiving preparations.  Plus I can’t overlook do blah, blah, blah.

Isn’t there a 12 step goal in which we are supposed to admit that we are powerless over something?  Well sometimes I feel pretty powerless over my own time.  I have a feeling there are a lot of mothers and fathers who feel pretty powerless when it comes to making time for self.  Actually, I know of several unmarried people and young people who feel that same tug of war between self-ambition and family, work, or community responsibilities.

However, NaNoWriMo taught me something about myself.  I learned some of these tips in NaNo workshops and some from the participation in the yearly event.

1)      I really do have an hour a day to do something for myself, such as write.

2)      The world will not fall apart if I give myself time to do what I love.

3)      The family, and I’m sure others, think I am a more pleasant person to be around when I am happy, and honestly I’m happy when I feel a sense of self-achievement.

4)      It is okay to fail while writing.  That is why the editing process exists.

5)      Do not edit while writing the first draft.  Especially do not edit during NaNoWriMo!

6)      Join a writer’s group for support and sanity.  It’s just nice to not feel alone.

7)      Read, observe, and write as often as possible.

Even though I did not meet the NaNoWriMo goal I still feel like I succeeded.  I learned something about myself.  There have been new friends met and new writing tools gathered for future writing events.  Plus, I’ve connected with authors, Indie and traditionally published.  Oh and I’ve learned one other thing:

8)      There will always be another NaNoWriMo next year.


Recital triumph through trip-ups


As a child I never really had the opportunity to learn music. Actually I was never able to connect on an educational or personal level with the music teachers in school or the community.

To be honest, our small town provided few opportunities. Plus my parents didn’t have the means to hunt around for a teacher who connected with my unique style. It’s not due to a lack of effort on my parents’ part. When I mentioned that I wanted to learn violin they not only rented an instrument, but also sent me to an inexpensive teacher. A Suzuki teacher. Even today I cringe at the rigidity of those lessons.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this method works. It just did not work for me. Truthfully, I was so young & so resistant to the teacher that I honestly do not know if I quit due to my lack of practice & declining interest, the teacher, or due to the method in general.

However, despite my poor experience I still have an appreciation for music. I also have an appreciation for the educational benefits which music theory provides. This appreciation has been extended to my children.

Over the past 8 years I have spent countless hours encouraging my children to practice, learn, & love an instrument. Personally I don’t care which instrument, style of music, or method my kids learn just so long as they learn. The last thing I want to do is stifle their creative talent & interest by imposing my desires.

This lack of interest in expecting musical prodigies or “efficios” has actually caused a few raised eye brows. Seriously folks! All I want are teachers who are will to work with my children’s interests, know when to push or back off, & be willing to learn with my kids if need be. I do not expect the teachers to be knowledgeable in all things music, but I do expect them to be flexible. For example a violin teacher my daughter had was not familiar with fiddling, but because they had a good rapport the teacher was willing to learn also. She had instructed my daughter in classical for a couple of years so when my little girl had decided to switch to a more folksy sound the teacher was disappointed. Not because she disapproved, but because she wasn’t an expert & thought we would need to find a new teacher. Well nothing could have been further from the truth.

You see I believe that teachers do not have to be experts in everything. They just need to be expert mentors & learners. So I explained that I’d be willing to pay the normal rate if she was willing to learn along with my daughter. As a result their bond was stronger & my daughter saw first had that learning is a life long process.

This same expectation of flexibility has been applied to all of my children’s music teachers. It’s an expectation I’ve developed after being pushed around by a couple of early teachers. As a result I’ve received a few strange looks. Those looks grow even stranger when I explain that I also pay a week early & for missed lessons as long as it was due to my scheduling conflicts. After all, why punish the teacher for something we did? That just doesn’t make sense. Oh, & I almost forgot to mention that my kid gets to decide if the teacher is doing an adequate job. After all I’m not taking the lesson!

As a result I have three children who play what they love & they practice. My daughter is an adult now so she is currently self-taught. As a matter of fact if your a Scout who went through Philmont’s Ponil you may have met her. She’s a ray of Sunshine who improvs on the fiddle & guitar.

My two boys have played the trumpet, piano, drums, & guitar. Currently their interests are centered around the piano & the guitar. The oldest boy plays classical piano while my youngest play country guitar. The result has been a very interesting & joyful ensemble of practice sessions at home.

Tonight was as equally entertaining. The boys performed in a recital & they did it their way. One played & sung a country song while the other fingered his way through Cannon D, Pachelbel, from memory. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way my memory player thought it should. I thought he did very well (he certainly did better than I could). However he felt he could have performed better. Actually I think he simply realized that playing from memory at home & playing from memory to an audience is different. Despite a couple of mistakes I think his performance was grand. He persevered through the mistakes & he learned how to perform better the next time. In my book this makes his performance a success.

To put it simply….it’s not how well you perform initially….it’s how you perform overall.

Don’t why wait!  Do what I tell my kids….Play hard…play well!    Hmmmm….I think it’s time for me to do the same.