Back at the beginning of November I decided to try to write 50,000 words of my novel. I had been cooking up my novel idea-wise for over a year. I had some very rounded characters, a fun setting, and in the month before November I plotted much conflict and misery to subject my dear characters to.
It turns out November is just about the crappiest month to write a novel in when you have four children in school and one Husbeast who works for a school. I did great at the beginning. Then I got a nasty cold mid-November. My energy was sapped and I was barely feeding and clothing everybody. I could have rallied and got another good chunk done, but then Thanksgiving break hit. Husbeast and I decided to go keto, and that required ALL THE COOKING.
So, sadly, my 13K words of novel was left dangling and I lost NaNoWriMo. But considering the following, I still consider any work I did a immense victory:
1. Organizing for NaNo forced me to face the reality of my plot. I was able to get from ‘here’s a nice setting and nice characters’ to ‘let’s screw everyone’s lives up so we can have conflict’.
2. More conflict allowed me to refine my characters into more interesting and realistic people. I wound up reworking my main character and giving her a lot more depth because she bored me.
3. It forced me to actually write! I have had various forms of this novel idea floating around in my head for two years. However, besides idea pages, I hadn’t written a bloody word. I wasn’t even sure I could write. But I found out I could, and I loved it! Well, I didn’t love all of it. NaNo discourages heavy editing until you finish your 50K words, so there’s a lot I will need to go off and hack off in the name of ‘that’s completely boring’, ‘huh, that character wouldn’t do that’, ‘this needs trimming’ ‘MOAR DETAILZZZZZ!’ and all those other edity things. But most of all, I found I love writing! I could easily do it for hours a day.
4. I could write long periods of time and get really into it! However, my current lifestyle of running a house of six makes dedicating hours of time to writing nearly impossible. My youngest is in preschool, requiring two trips out in the morning and his presence the afternoon. Hitting thirty earlier this year forced me to set some health goals which require working out and reforming my diet so that I can avoid a myriad of health issues later in life. But what has never been able to be postponed is the whole parenting bit. I get one shot with my monkeys. Husbeast and I are their only parents and only we can help them learn to be responsible, caring people. We are rather outnumbered to begin with; each of them requiring time with homework, hygiene, chores, emotional support, behavioral supervision, and lots of goofy fun times. So my current mode of cramming writing in the cracks in the best I can do. Life will change eventually, but I do have to settle for that.
5. I have a lot of support to be a writer. Specifically in Husbeast. When I fell in love with him there were two things that settled the ‘Is this guy marriage material?’ question. Firstly, him being an excellent communicator. It doesn’t matter how awesome a person you are, if you can’t communicate effectively with other people, you can’t navigate conflict and foster growth and trust in a relationship. Secondly, him being a lifelong bookworm like me. Both of us spent hours of childhood ignoring the world, lost in the great stories of fantasy and science fiction writers. Part of us dating was reading our favorite childhood books to each other. So when Husbeast heard me gearing up to start writing, he was enthusiastic about it, offering to take on some extra responsibilities so I could get more writing done. He is limited in how much he can take over due to his job being high-maintenance, but even his excitement is a great encouragement.
6. I fell in love with my characters. Assembling a fantasy epic means you need to have a few main characters to balance out the action and move the plot along. I started with two main characters, and now I’m currently working with five. Each of them has some serious struggles they’ll be working through in this story, and the conflicts will clash together and screw everybody up. When you go through tough times together, you bond together, so putting my characters through trouble has bonded me with them. The supporting characters have been fun to write and I’ve got some zany, colorful people to work with. I don’t see them as ideas anymore, I see them as people whose story I have to tell.
Christmas break is here. Later there will be summer break. Next fall my youngest will be in school full time. More time for writing will come. In the meantime, I’ll keep sneaking some in the cracks here and there, spending time in the shower brainstorming plot elements, and having fun with it as much as I can. I hope when I finish my novel, it will bring the senses of adventure, loss, humor, and triumph to the reader. Even if it fails, I will have learned a lot to start my next one. I’ve always been a writer. Now it’s just a matter of learning and writing enough to be good enough to make a living off of it.