It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
It’s also my husband’s birthday.
This happens every year on November first, an extreme conflict of interests in my own life — my desire to do nothing but write, and the fact that life just gets in the way.
Participating in NaNoWriMo means taking on the goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
It works out to writing roughly 1,600 words per day.
You can create an account on nanowrimo.org and keep track of your writing each day.
The website automatically does the math and lets you know how many words you have left to write …
And, at the rate you are going, how long it will take you to write 50K words.
November first is the day that #NaNoWriMo is trending, 50 or so of my Facebook friends are sharing the title of their novel, its genre or theme, and how many words they managed to write on the first day.
November first is also my husband’s birthday.
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo nearly every year since 2012, and my word count at the end of the day on November first is nearly always zero.
I woke at 6:30 and pressed snooze three times.
I really didn’t want to get up.
Yesterday was a busy day. The 31st of October always is.
- Homework that I always end up saving until the weekend is over.
- A couple of hours of editing.
- Shopping for the upcoming week’s school snacks and ingredients to bake a carrot cake and cream cheese icing. (Shopping with the kids; I’m not a fan of shopping, much less with kids in tow.)
- Helping my kids with their homework.
- Then putting together last-minute costumes for Trunk-or-Treating in the evening.
We left the house at 5:55 and drove south two miles to a Trunk-or-Treat church.
It went so well that we thought we’d find another one. That second one had a line that would make Disneyland’s lines blush.
After 20 minutes, we were maybe one-tenth of the way through the line.
We left, got some burgers, and by the time I got home, did dishes, finished laundry, and prepared for school the next day, I decided against homework and hoped for a good night’s sleep.
But our neighbors had something else in mind …
Their party’s music might not have been so much of a disturbance, but our dog’s barking was.
Cars were parked up and down the street, including right in front of our house — our dog’s territory. (I know because I checked at midnight when she had been barking for around an hour. I saw a woman with a skimpy white top and a fluffy red tutu walking briskly down our sidewalk.)
A couple of hours later, our youngest clambered into our bed. I ended up sleeping in the boys’ room …
Where I hit the snooze button thrice this morning.
Forgive me, Professor, for I have sinned.
I skipped class today for the first time.
Just one class.
At 9:30, after an hour or so of teaching at my kids’ school, instead of going to Fresno State for my ten o’clock class, I went home.
I washed dishes and swept and vacuumed and put on a load of laundry and let the rabbit out of his two-by-three cage to run around in the backyard a while.
Forgive me, Professor, but it is my husband’s birthday.
I said goodbye to him at eight in the morning and would only see him again after seven in the evening. He would return home in the late afternoon after picking up the kids from school and I wanted him to return to a clean house.
At least once.
At least on his birthday.
Why didn’t I clean over the weekend? I’m glad you asked. Kind of.
I can’t remember exactly what happened this past weekend. Homework played a part, as did a family drive to Hanford on Saturday afternoon for the biggest ice-creams we have ever eaten:
Half of it is still in the freezer.
Sunday involved my missing church (forgive me, Pastor, for being sick on Sunday).
Though I felt guilty lying down half the day, with so much that needed to be done, I had no energy for anything else.
So, forgive me, Professor, but I have no regrets for missing class.
It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I really wish I had nothing to do but write all month.
And drink chai.
But I know it’s not going to happen, so I’ll exert my minor freedom by skipping a class.
Just this once.
I’ll make up for lost time.
My days, it seems, are spent making up for lost time.
I wrote the above post as a sort of journal entry/essay five years ago, in November of 2016, when I was studying, working from home, and teaching at my kids’ school.
It was a busy time for my family, and like I mentioned above, I felt like I was spending much of my time playing catch-up.
Looking back at the stats on my NaNoWriMo dashboard, I actually wrote over 30,000 words in November of 2016, for my YA novel Every Breath:
If I remember correctly, I did a lot of my “writing” time using voice to text, sending myself emails that I recorded en route to my evening classes.
(Whatever works, right?)
This year, I haven’t even decided if I’m going to try to participate in NaNoWriMo.
My focus lately has been more on blogging than “novelling” … although I’d love to make progress on some of the manuscript drafts I’ve started and haven’t quite finished yet.
What advice would you give to someone who’s started a whole lot of stories but, other than short stories, hasn’t really finished any of them yet?
And what about you?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?
Or have you ever in years past?
What challenges are you facing this year, and are you going to try to push past the challenges and write anyway?
If so, all the best!
I’d love to hear how it goes for you.