Here it is November again. Most people are thinking grocery shopping (Where can I get the best price on Turkey? Maybe if I buy staples over the next couple of weeks, that Thanksgiving grocery bill won’t be so huge.), cleaning (HOW many people did I invite this year?? What was I THINKING?!?), vacationing (A week off from school… where to go? where to go?). Me? I’m thinking “Fifty thousand words….. Fifty thousand words….” As I drive, I have plot points going through my head. Every billboard or commercial I scour for possible character names. I’m stocking up on necessities (peanut M&Ms and coffee) and saying my goodbyes to the family and friends. I’m going to put Words with Friends on hiatus and send my email buddies a fairwell address.
It’s NaNoWriMo time. Some loo-loos on the Internet decided that torturing otherwise normal people is a fun thing to do and they created National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Check their website at NaNoWriMo.org. My darling writing buddy introduced me to this a few years ago and – against all better judgment – I’m hooked. This is my third year of NNWM madness. The premise? Write a 50,000 word novel entirely in the month of November. You can plan all you want before then, but you can’t start writing word one until November 1st and have to finish November 30th. They have the nerve, by the way, to call this a NOVELLA. I’m sorry – but I say if you write 50,000 words you can call it whatever you want.
And what is the prize for this slip from sanity? If I make it – make the 50,000 words – they send me a link to a pdf file where I can fill in and print off my very own certificate. Wow.
I’ve been a NNWM “winner” for the past two years. I can’t find my certificate from the first year. But I have in my possession a completed novel that evolved miraculously through that month, and another from last year. Rather than alienating my family, it cements us. They are totally on-board and make it as easy on me as possible, taking over some of my responsibilities to make it easier, enduring that drifting-eye look I get when working on a sticky plot point. There have even been the occasional “AHA!!!” moments when I’ve shouted and gone running out of the room to the computer, a difficult transition or word or connection suddenly coming clear to me.
When my kid ran me through all her ideas for how to make it a successful month, I protested. It seems like the most selfish ambition I could possibly have! I mean – what’s if for? Publication? Whatever. A prize? Yup – can’t get enough of those self-printed certificates. Then what?
Her answer shut me up and cemented something that had been too gooey in my brain. Paraphrased, she said: You are a better person when you write. It gives you an outlet for the story you HAVE to tell. The focus of the month is like no other time. Then she added, rubbing her hands together: And I get to read the book!
Ah, my fan club. They’re the best.
So I’ve got this story in my head. The characters are ready, their conflict is ready, the thesaurus is on standby, the computers and tablet are charged, coffeepot is ALWAYS ready. I’ve got one character name that’s eluding me, though….. I’ve got that baby name book I can flip through. Wait! There’s that baby name website! I almost forgot about that! I’ll go check that out—