I’m going to try following the prompts that Lisa Jo Baker posts on her blog every Friday. This week’s is: See. The rules? Write for 5 minutes. No editing. No over-thinking. No backtracking.
My sweet six-year-old son is learning to read. This week his class was assigned their first two words: I and see.
This afternoon as he and I ate lunch he said, “I memorized my book, Mama.”
And so began his retelling of the first book he can read on his own.
“It’s called School,” he started.
“I see crayons. I see scissors. I see books. I see desks. I see chairs. I see children. I see school.”
When he was done, he was beaming. We had a hug. A “proud of you” moment and then he cleared his dishes from the table.
That word, see, stuck with me all afternoon. Everything he’s learning to see. Everything he has yet to see. Gratitude that he can see to read. To learn.
So often I take for granted all that I can see. The sweet faces of these two boys as they are sleeping. Seeing them play, argue and make amends. Seeing them interact with my husband and my mom. Seeing them with their peers at school.
All this wonder at my fingertips, simply because I, too, can see.
I made it to 50K on Saturday. Hunkered over my laptop as my husband and sons slept, I typed the final words of my 2013 NaNoWriMo creation. There were several times during the month when I wasn’t so sure I’d make it to my 50K goal. But I did and I learned a lot along the way.
Try New Things: I tried something new this year — writing a novel in stories. Originally I thought that would make things “easier” because I could just start a new story. That was not the case. I wanted the stories to link together (remember: novel in stories, not a collection of short stories). Remembering the details and starting the next story at the “right” place was difficult. The main character who linked all of the stories also wanted to take over the book, so keeping her in check was a challenge. Even though it was tough, I’m still glad I tried this new format. That’s some of what NaNo is about: permission to try new things.
A Commute and Lunch Hour Actually Help: In 2010 I was working full-time at a corporate job. I had a 30-minute commute to and from work on a train. As I searched for time to write this year, I realized that my one hour commute, as well as my lunch break, had really helped me meet my goal in 2010. This year I got creative about writing time, allowing myself 30-minute chunks of time to write when I wasn’t working on another freelance project.
Peer Pressure Works: I know another writer mom who also embarked on NaNo this year. Mid-way through the month we started sending our wordcount updates to each other via email. Seeing that she had hit 15K helped me get motivated to get there, too. And then 35K, then 42K, etc. The back and forth was like a relay race, where we were passing the “you can do it” baton back and forth. I think I may have given up the effort had it not been for the encouragement I found in sharing our wordcounts.
All in all, NaNo 2013 was a good time and I’m happy that I finished. Now I’m considering returning to my NaNo project from 2010. After three years, I think I might be ready.
As for this project, we’ll have to wait and see.
Next week at this time, NaNoWriMo will be over. The last few days, it’s consumed me. My laptop has been out and I’ve grabbed every minute possible to add words to the page.
I’m now at 35,019 words. (Less than 15K to go!)
At some point last week my six-year-old son asked me, as we were walking up our front steps, “Mama, how many words have you written in your novel?”
I told him my total and mentioned that I still had a ways to go.
“I know!” he said, the excitement clear as he turned around to face me on the steps.
“You can type in the car when we drive to Thanksgiving,” he suggested.
The fact that this sweet boy of mine was helping me think of ways to make my goal? Well, that made me all the more fired up to get those 50,000 words on the page.
One word at a time.
I am still behind on my wordcount (if I were writing 1,667 per day I would have 35K today) but that’s not so far behind that I can’t make 50K by November 30. I still have hope!
Recent reminders that have come up thanks to the NaNo process:
- Go with the flow: today a character that I hadn’t expected would say much got his own chapter. Way to go, Billy! (He’s 5 years old.)
- Find those in your shoes: I’ve been keeping up with two other friends who are doing NaNo. Hearing about their progress inspires me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
- Shower less: that time can be used to write.
- Read the NaNo Pep Talks: these words from Lev Grossman hit home yesterday –
A writer—someone once said—is a person for whom writing is difficult. That resistance you’re feeling is proof that you’re digging deep. To write a novel is to lose your way and find it over, and over, and over again.
That’s it for now. I’m busy losing and finding my way to 50K.
In my NaNoWriMo writing. My younger son turned six years old on Monday and that means we were celebrating all week! SO, I’m now at a place where I will need to write 2.700 words per day to make my 50,000-word goal on November 30.
For whatever crazy reason, after the break of not writing for about a week, I feel like is a real possibility. I’ve always said it’s bad news if I get behind. But, this time I feel like it’s different.
Just need to get busy.
If you were wondering, I’m still at the NaNoWriMo challenge. On Saturday I reached 15,000 words in my “novel in stories”.
This is hard! (Hmmm…have I said that before?)
It’s also great. I’ve been reminded how fun it is to watch stories evolve and take surprising shape. Go in directions I hadn’t anticipated.
That reminds me of a time when I heard Kazuo Ishiguro speak. From his British perspective, he admitted that he thought it was just a little crazy when American writers talked like the story was in charge.
“Who is writing it anyway?” he wondered out loud.
Whether it’s me writing the story or my novel writing it, this thing is still being written… little by little.
I’m at 7,333 words. And I’m wondering what on earth I was thinking when I took this challenge on again. It’s hard to write all these words.
Especially hard when the self critic wakes up strong and ready to fill my head:
- What is this story about anyway?
- Have you heard of plot?
- Do you think you’re a writer?
- Why did you choose this “novel in stories” format? You’ve never done that before, you know.
- You’re only at 7,333 words and you’re tired?
- You have more than 42,000 words left. That’s a lot, you know.
But, I trudge on. This morning I told myself: This is the life of a writer — being in your head, battling that critic and getting words (somehow) on the page.
As I stared at the screen, cursor blinking, waiting for me to write SOMETHING at 6:33 am, I realized I was too close to one character. So, I changed her name, her situation, her family.
When I took a step back and switched those details, I was able to write 300 words. Whew.
Roughly 42,000 to go.