Novel Ideas

Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

Today, I’ve written over 5,000 words for NaNoWriMo. My 50,000 word novel should be done on Wednesday, though I will need to write another 9,000 plus words to meet the deadline.

Last year was my first National Novel Writing Month. Afloat in a sea of procrastination and writerly defeat, I’d read a posting about the event two days prior to its November 1 start date and leapt at the chance to get myself back on the writing track. I crave discipline, I need to establish a “practice.” The idea that I would sit down every single day for one month and write with a single goal in mind was delightful and alluring. I jumped in with both feet.

My first NaNoWriMo was like my first pregnancy. I was flush with newness and wonder. I ate good things and carefully monitored my progress. I kept my promise to write at least 1667 words per day. It was delightful. I finished a day early and even liked my wobbly little first draft novel. It was thrilling.

This year, I was eager to repeat the whole process. And, much like my second pregnancy, I felt dreadful. The writing has been arduous. I’ve eaten way too much chocolate. (Is there a reason NaNoWriMo has to come right after Halloween when there are like 10,000 bite-sized candy bars in the house?) I’ve fallen into pits of despair and anger. I’ve moped. I’ve gone to bed early without writing a word. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of this month NOT writing.

As was the case with my second pregnancy, during the gestation of my second NaNoWriMo novel, my life got in the way. My kids were hungry. They had homework and class projects due. They needed clean clothes and rides to soccer practice. My mom came to visit. And then my stepmom came to visit. It was my son’s birthday and then it was Thanksgiving. There were cakes and pies to bake.

So, this year was different. It wasn’t as fun. (A lot of the time it wasn’t any fun.) But I’m still doing it. My kids are proud of me. They give me high-fives when I hit another big number. I tell them I am writing a novel in one month and it’s hard work. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. I tell them this and at the same time, I tell myself.

Tomorrow, I will get up and write some more. And the next day, too.

I could give up. I could have given up a week ago. I could have given up the very first week when I really didn’t even start until we were already five days in. But I didn’t. This novel, no matter how good or how terrible it turns out to be, is helping me to get strong. A writer writes. No matter what.

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