Monday, November 30, 2015


This month, I participated in an online project called NaNoWriMo. If you have never heard of this, it stands for 'National Novel Writing Month'. Each November, people all over the world commit to the effort of writing at least 50, 000 words. The intent is for novelists to get a jump start on that book they long to complete one day.

Years ago, when my babies were very small, my husband's aunt, a lifelong writer, mentioned that she would be MIA in November so she could be part of NaNoWriMo. That sounded suspicious to me, but I did not investigate further. At the time, though a lifelong writer myself, I was not in the frame of mind to sit down and crank out a novel rough draft. About all I could crank out were tears and just enough breast milk for the babies.

Fast forward to now, when I have been involved with a small writing group of ladies I have known and gotten to know in the past couple of years. Each time we meet, I would talk about the four book outlines I have, and how I have a few sample essays or chapters on paper. They encouraged me and never made me feel bad if I did not move a step forward from one meeting to the next. Unconditional support.

Finally, this year I felt that my kids were in a place where I could actually start thinking instead of simply going about the rote business of every day and merely surviving. So I started organizing the files I already had journaled and published, paying attention to the goals I stated in writing group. Little by little I began to realized I could actually cobble something together.

Just before November began, I looked into what the project was all about, and made an 11th hour decision to sign up for NaNoWriMo. One of my writing group ladies had done it last year, and was participating again this year. Once November got underway, I felt pressure. I cannot say that I technically wrote 50,000+ words this month. But the combination of what I had already written, plus what I added, actually amassed just over that threshold.

This last day, I reviewed my manuscript,  and adding and deleting, and furtively updating my word count, I felt like squealing when the number hit. I entered the entire text to have my efforts validated officially by the NaNoWriMo website, and this popped up!

While it's an 'on your honor' system, and theoretically you could type in the same word 50,000 times, it was kind of cool to see it happen. 

I had foregone food today, save for a necessary cup of coffee and some oatmeal. I was suddenly famished and had to pee, but I had to run out the door to pick up the kids. While waiting in the pick-up line, I had time to reflect a little. I felt good about this. I also felt like I had only scratched the surface, and that it is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It is in need of so much refinement, but I have a giant jump start to something that really matters to me. 

I am not the typical NaNoWriMo participant, as, like I mentioned, its intention is for novelists. I am considered a 'rebel' by their definitions. The support is there for anyone who wants it, but I am not surprised I fall into that category. I always stick out like a sore thumb. Always have probably always will. After this month of writing I now have a sore brain to go with it. I also have far more than I had 30 days ago. It was 200 pages when I printed it to a PDF. NOw I need new goals. 

Return of the Elf . . .

It's that time of year again. Whether or not you can get behind the whole Elf on a Shelf thing, I have to say, my kids love it. We started it a few years ago, and it was fun when I tried to think of all the creative things I could do with the Elf. Pinterest is LOADED with ideas. The first year i just moved the elf around a bunch, a la 'Elf on the Shelf for Slackers'. Then, last year, I got much more creative. Sadly, what I did was set the bar much higher. Now I am the one who has to uphold it.

So I did what any smart normal crazy person would do: I planned it out in advance. Yes, yes, I can hear you laughing. I just have so darn much going on in my life that I figured if I planned out what the little red guy was doing each day, it would help me stay on track. Now I not only have my own to do list, I have one for a stuffed elf who keeps my kids in line better than I do. What just happened?

This morning we set up Elfie's door, because you know, he needs a place to get in. Last year we made the door, the fence, wreath and sitting area for him. So I dragged that out and we set it up. They kept asking me if he might come a day early this year, like last year. Early? I have no recall of that. Whatever. We set it up and they went off to school squealing about behaving and seeing Elfie soon. They insisted on illuminated lights to his front door, and plan on making him ornaments for his (multiple) trees. Last year he only had one. We only have one for crying out loud.

So this is Elfie's front door, and if I can  get away with it, I might not decorate anything else, except our tree. 

I sound sarcastic maybe, but when we finished and they were at school, I started thinking about how little time there might be left for them to believe the way they do now. If one figures it all out, they might tell the others. It won't be like an older sibling keeping the secret for the younger one(s). With multiples, I imagine that they will move through most rites of passage at the same speed. 

And thus, I will be consulting my elf activities/antics spreadsheet daily until Christmas Eve. We'll see what trouble he can get up this year! Hopefully the next 25 days will produce well behaved kids and sustained belief in the wonder that is eventually  chipped away from us. The next best thing to having that wonder live in you, is living with little someones who have it living in them. 

Looks like he's ready to go!

Hey, that's MY coffee . . .