Crazy cats cradling catnip. Cozenly creeping cleverly closer to Contemplated conspiracies. (Teaching poetry this fall & flexing muscles.)
— maggz (@nogginquest) July 26, 2014
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.
A few nights ago I visited my parents and was greeted with a bag of childhood paperwork. Most of it contained postcards from vacations, letters from family, notes from friends, and mementos of a perfectly normal childhood. However, I also found some of the stories I wrote when I was younger. With a catch in my throat I read one out loud to my mom.
I was moved by these few stories not because they were great, but because I found them. Several years ago I reread a stack of stories I wrote in middle and early high school, and after being disgusted with the immature writing tossed each in the trash. I’m sure they were burned a few days later. These were stories I wrote while on the bus to and from school. As each chapter was completed they were passed around on that bus and read by friends. Sometimes my friends would beg me to hurry up and finish the next chapter and I would find myself writing with a frenzied haste to meet their demands. That was a sweet time of innocence and hope.
Unfortunately I don’t remember if I finished the story. I do however remember a few crude comments from people who really shouldn’t have mattered. I also remember writing other stories, submitting them to publishing companies, and being rejected. As much as I told myself that it didn’t matter, it really did. Eventually I became busy with the activities of being a teen, then the activities of being an adult, and I stopped writing with that feverish quality of a harried person trying to beat some impending deadline.
However, just below the surface there were little stories bubbling up at inopportune times. Such as standing in line at the grocery store and wondering what would happen if the building began to sway, twist, and move as if coming to life. Little scenarios of how people would react as they realized they were trapped in the belly of a living building would quickly play through my mind. Then it would be time to check out and I’d joke with the cashier about the mundane things of life. Never would I mention the little insanities of my imagination. Sometimes I would write those little snippets of imagination in a personal notebook, but usually they simply disappeared into a creative black hole.
Then that plastic bag with a few stories appeared from the depths of a forgotten closet, and I was reminded of how much I loved to write. It came at the right time. Recently I’ve attended a few writers’ group meetings. These meetings were more instructional than collaborative and that’s okay. I needed instruction and a good reminder of what creative writing was really about. I also needed something to take my mind off my so far unsuccessful job search. Plus I needed to be reminded that I can successfully compete in something.
So I dug further and found a magazine that published an article I wrote in high school. I then found a certificate from a college competition congratulating me on a sci-fi/fantasy piece written while attending high school. I also found those rejection letters from publishers and reread them to find that they weren’t so much rejecting my work as they were encouraging me to try a different angle.
As a child there were two things I dreamed of doing. One was becoming a librarian.
I’ve since completed the first step of that by graduating with a degree in library science and information services this past May. The other was writing and watching others enjoy what I created.
Questions formed in my head about childhood passions and dreams.
Can we go back and pick up where we left off?
And why do we let our dreams fall away to the mundane requirements of life?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/haoz/3564681675/”>HaoJan</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/5075477519/”>© 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
Okay I’m just a day away from the beginning of the BAK (Biking Across Kansas) event. My stomach is fluttering. I’m still a little unsure of what it will be like to ride with hundreds of other cycle enthusiasts. However, I do feel fairly prepared.
My legs, lungs, and butt have been practicing for the big event. The only thing that isn’t quite ready is my mind which honestly is the worst thing not to have prepared. The body can do many things, but it can do very little if the mind doesn’t lead.
So in order to help keep my mind off any pain or panic, I have packed some light reading (as can be seen sitting atop my tent). I also have note pads and pens ready for a homework assignment from my writer’s group. If everything works out I’ll have an hour or two each day to just sit, think, and write. Of course I’ll always find time to read.
I’m sure after the first day I will be able to take a deep breath and begin to fall into a nice routine. However, until then my stomach will wrestle with a million little butterflies. Hopefully since my bicycle is glowing with anticipation it might be kind enough to help me settle those butterflies.