Note: This post was originally published on my previous blog: Love to Learn and Run. However, since most of you didn’t know me, last October, I thought I’d share why I’m giddy with anticipation for the clock to turn 12:00a.m. on November 1, 2017.
If the title, professional student, existed, that would be my profession. Our world has an abundance of places, things, ideas, and concepts to explore, enjoy and experience, but only speckles of sand in living days. While I’ll never be able to experience everything on my exhaustive list of “What I want to see and do before I die”, I try to fit in as much as I can into my carry-on bag.
In childhood, I dreamed of writing storybooks like the ones LeVar Burton and grade school teachers read to me. After school, weekends, and holiday breaks, I pretended to be them in my bedroom, reading to: my bedroom walls, dolls, super hero action figures, sporting equipment, and anything else in the room. Since my brother is a few years younger, sometimes, he, too, was my audience. But, after hearing the same stories read again and… again… and again…, even an adorable little boy like him, showed signs of boredom.
I decided to write my own stories. Unfortunately, they were not saved. I would love to see what I was thinking and projecting, then. I’m certain the themes were cheesy and corny, but in my mind, I was one of the greats as I sat on my childhood bed, hunched over, writing away like I imagined Dr. Seuss doing when working on his craft. My single-digit-age hand bore blisters from the hours spent writing, erasing, and re-writing my stories until they were “perfect”. At that time, illustrations were a must in books I read and wrote, so I attempted drawing, too. The imagination and determination inherent in children is inspiring. Sadly, often, if not nurtured, imagination and dreams are stored in damp, dark corners of attics and basements, only to be discovered when in search for something else.
A few years ago, while on a search for “something else”, I found my childhood dream.
Like all great treasure boxes, there is a mixture of excitement and apprehension at what lurks inside. I opened the lid to discover a hidden gem-my desire to write, again. My treasure box was NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month.
What is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)?
Here is the link to the website: http://nanowrimo.org/, but I will give you a summary, too.
If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, do it! I have written three. Yes. Th-r-ee. November 1st will be the start of my fourth. While all are in the first phase (writers, you know this is the easy phase), it’s an awesome feeling knowing I’ve written three novels. I’m SO cool, r-iiight? You can be just as cool if you take a risk and decide to make this the year you write the novel knocking, screaming, and pounding at your amygdala and hippocampus: write me, already!
Maybe, one day, I’ll edit and share with you, but for now, I write them for me. I write them because characters and inspiration in my everyday life scream and nudge me to tell their stories. Perhaps, you’re afraid to start because of the myriad of “what if’s” and fears? I’m scared. I’m not good enough. But, I’ve never written a novel before… But, I don’t have time… But, I’m a mom. But, I’m a dad. But, I’m working, school, life, etc., etc., and more etc.… All of those thoughts are normal and valid, but they’re mostly a subconscious fear of failure.
Don’t allow fear to win. NaNoWriMo provides the opportunity to write without any of those fears, it’s like psychoanalysis, no filter, write what comes to mind. You will probably be researching a lot, but that is a fun learning process. I know I’ve had to research a lot of interesting information because of the direction characters took me.
The Gift of Novel Writing
For the past few years, I have been giving myself an awesome birthday gift- a no guilt writing month. Like most parents with several interests, I sometimes feel guilty about the time writing and running takes up, so I often limit one or the other to avoid drowning in guilt. However, during NaNoWriMo (Nov. 1st-Nov. 30th), I give myself a “gift certificate” to write to my heart’s desire without any guilt… It’s liberating. I’ve never been a fan of material gifts, except for running shoes and books, of course, so my husband is more than happy to oblige with my only birthday request.
I have opted out of family and friend’s parties and events in order to meet the 50,000 word count without any guilt. The only thing I still refuse to forgo is supporting my son at his activities. I write while I wait. I type away on my phone or write on a notebook before games, in between innings, and probably present with a down-in-the-dumps demeanor to other parents since I don’t engage in normal conversation. But, I’m ok with that because I’ve given myself permission to be selfish in pursuit of my passion. Supporting him never feels like an obligation. Watching him play sports or participate in extracurricular activities, seeing the benefits they bring to to his mind and body, today and tomorrow, could never be anything, but something I must and want to witness. It will all be gone in seconds. Remember, the hour glass doesn’t pause, ever. I want to capture as much as I can with my mental lens.
Back in my car…
As soon as I’m back home, I go to town on my laptop- click-tap-click-tap-pause-click-tap-click-tap-pause. Grrrrrrrr and more, grrrrrrr. I’m writing a novel, only full pots brew in our home in November. Ah… the smell of freshly ground coffee beans fills my kitchen like spilled perfume. Someone needs to bottle the scent of coffee and books. Real coffee, not the artificialy scented available at local candle shops.
If you love coffee as much as I do, November is filled with pots and pots of the delicious brew. It always feels like a cuddle, puts a smile on my face, and gives me the extra kick I need to meet the 50,000 word goal. November is my favorite month, not because I celebrate my birthday, but because I get to experience everything I love without guilt: writing, reading, researching, learning, coffee, coffee, coffee, and, there are days when I stay up until the wee small hours… of the mor-ning while the whole wide world is… fast asleep… Ha. Did you like that Frank Sinatra song reference? Sometimes, I lie awake or at my laptop thinking about characters and don’t worry about counting sheep. Ha! I know, I know. I’m a big D-O-R-K. If that wasn’t enough to make this lover of the written word feel like a child on Christmas morning, the entire month of November, I also r-un… without G-U-I-L-T… Running is brainstorming and inspiration.
Running+ coffee+ researching+ learning+ a lot of writing= a novel.
All my life, I’ve viewed and experienced the world in letters and words. However, it wasn’t until college, when writing paper after paper in psychology and social sciences courses that I truly dove into my hidden love of writing. Soon after sharing my creativity and analysis of complex subjects, professors began to praise my thoughts and writing. What lover of words and knowledge doesn’t feel inspired and appreciate compliments from those already working with and researching the human mind, right?
I was high school yearbook co-editor, but we all know that doesn’t provide the creative outlet to write fiction. Plus, having a faculty advisor, censors a lot of what an adolescent mind experiences and wants to project on the pages of our documented memento of years filled with the most extreme thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. So, I helped create a somewhat unique yearbook with the limited creativity granted, then. Again, I attempted to resurface my long lost desire to write fiction when enrolled in undergraduate English courses, but the load of all core psychology courses, took up most of my time, limiting time to truly explore my creative side.
Hence, why I LOVE NaNoWriMo.
I’m free… as… a bird… (read to the tune of The Beatles’ tile song) to create without reservation. Without care. I write what surfaces. I write what I see, hear, smell, taste, feel, think, touch and anything my characters introduce. I’m open to anything and everything in the world of fictitious characters.
How Do I Start?
That was my question my first NaNoWriMo. I had no idea where to begin. I had written short stories, but short stories and novels are different. Novels are, well, novels. My first NaNoWriMo was the “learn as I go” year. While I don’t write any sections of my novel until November 1st, I do write down ideas. In some way, I feel like I’m cheating, but not really, it would be a waste of imagination and creativity to ignore thoughts and ideas that pop up throughout the year. I date all thoughts and ideas. As I write my novel, I don’t follow what is written on the pages of thoughts. I love the concept of writing what comes next as it pops up in my characters’ minds, but having these thoughts and ideas provide inspiration when I reach a ditch or obstacle.
The best way to dip your toes and see if the temperature is to your liking is by checking out the NaNoWriMo website: http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works
You, also, get the opportunity to purchase mugs, t-shirts, etc. to motivate as you type your way to a novel.
Here is my favorite shirt, not just in November, but throughout the year. I’m ready for a new one, this one has been washed- a lot!
Update from last year: I have a new one! Maybe, I’ll snap a pic during November and share with you on Twitter.:)
I don’t have the budget to hire a fashion model, yet, so, you get me. As an aside, if I ever post anything fashion related, you will get me, then, too. As soon as I’m a best seller, you’ll get the real deal-promise! Anyway, this pose is an ode to one of my favorite film characters-Marla Hooch. Marla, what a hitter!
If writing a novel is on your bucket, maybe you should attempt NaNoWriMo this November…? Even if you don’t reach the minimum 50,000 word goal, a start is better than wishing and wondering. I’m telling you, it’s a lot like the euphoric feeling of running… Extreme temperatures, sleepy, and busy days force me to lace my running shoes with less enthusiasm, but once I’m pounding the trails and streets, the smile on my face and mind thank me. Give it a go! What’s the worst that could happen?