It’s been a different kind of year.. no?
Here are just some of the things that made this past year feel off for me. I had some powerful conversations with friends and neighbors due to mutual misunderstandings and lack of communication. I made plans with the constant feeling that a wave of covid or another lockdown would cancel the plans. I got a part-time job to give myself more in-person socialization, structure and motivation after a few years of freelancing on small yet interesting projects. The price of everything from blueberries to homes to wood went up faster than I can remember, and I’ve found myself cooking more at home and being more mindful about needless subscriptions.
I met a woman in her late 70s/early 80s over the summer. While she was in the process of telling people about her upcoming retirement she kept bringing up the novel she was going to write. I chatted with her about how it was totally doable - just get up in the morning and write for two hours! I was excited for her extra time to pursue this but also started to reflect on my own longing to write. I know it’s possible to pursue great project while raising a family.
Just look at this quote from Diana Gabaldon:
When I decided to write a novel, I had two full time jobs and three children under the age of six, so I don’t want anyone telling me they don’t have time to write a book, but I learned to work in the middle of the night, and I still do that. So usually I’ll tuck my husband in bed around 9:00 or so, and then the dogs and I lie down on the couch for a bit, and I’ll fall asleep for an hour or two. And then I get up and the dogs get a bone. I get a Diet Coke. We go back to work until 4:00 in the morning. So that’s the main time. I can write at other times of the day, it’s just that’s when people leave me alone.
But in spite of all of this, of course I put things off, again and again.
Until this past November. I happened to be on Twitter, and saw that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) had just started. I decide that after years of hearing about it, I was going to do it!
I did it!
To get the novel pumped out in a month, I had to work. I worked really, really hard to make time for the story. I almost completely stopped using social media. I browsed Reddit less. The news was a 5 minute check-in. I didn’t start out with anything more than some emotions and a very rough plot. It was amazing that the story started to develop on its own. I thought about it all the time; I still think about it since that NaNoWriMo novel is really just a first draft and still needs work. My children were excited to see me working on something so tangible, and were always ready there for questions. My husband took the kids out for long durations on the weekend so that I could write for more than the couple of hours I got in the morning. Toward the end, I was writing in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. I saw the end goal, and knew I had to keep going even if I wasn’t sure it was good enough. It was never perfect, but writing so much was fulfilling and habit-forming.
I can’t wait to finish up the draft and put it out there. I’ll admit that I’ve been recouperating a bit, because the writing process for November was so intense. I don’t think I have the energy to write so much more than once a year, but I’m happy that I hit that goal - it was therapy, a creative outlet, and fun.