Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I know because I’m feeling it right now. National Novel Writing Month is all of nine days old, and I find myself, lamentably, sitting on the sidelines this year. With a busy career, six kids, and church responsibilities aplenty, it isn’t in the cards for me at the moment, but I can’t quite extinguish the passion. I feel my word count slipping away with every passing day, and, believe me, it hurts.
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it’s affectionately called by its participants and advocates, first came to my attention almost a decade ago when I read an article in the local newspaper about a movement of writers who each dedicate the month of November to churning out a 50,000-word novel. Fifty thousand words! In just thirty days. How could anyone be that crazy?
Well, I had to find out for myself. Two years ago, I gave it a shot for the first time. Going in, I had an outline and a plan. The plan was to write every day of the month except for Sundays, which meant I’d have to pace myself by getting down approximately 2,700 words each writing day. I wrote about a teenage girl in search of her father’s killer. I didn’t have much time to think; I just wrote – two to three hours a night. To borrow lyrics from a popular musical, I wrote like I was running out of time. That’s precisely because I was. The experience was grueling and exhilarating and unlike anything I’d ever done before. I watched a story and characters come to life in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it, the month was over and 50,000 words were staring back at me. What a rush.
Last year, I was right back at it. In thirty days, I wrote the first 50,000 words of the sequel to a young adult science fiction novel I’d previously written. Admittedly, my second NaNoWriMo experience was a bit messier than the first, but it was a thrill nonetheless, and when it was over, I had half a draft cooling on my laptop. None of it was perfect, but it was beautiful and better than I ever could’ve hoped.
As I said, this year it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m still doing what I can. I’m burning vacation days on Fridays this month to spend time on my manuscript from last year. I’m honing my words and, hopefully, I can crank out a few new ones. Even under the crush of life, I have words to write before I sleep. Lots of them. And someday soon, I’ll give NaNoWriMo another go. When that day comes, I hope you’ll join me. In the meantime, I’ll be pining away for a NaNoWriMo victory even bigger and more glorious than any that came before it.