At the start of last November, I had a two-month-old baby and a six-month-old baby. Years before I'd published a novel, and for the years since, I had been revising and revising my second novel, Strip. Sure, I had written some short stories, published some articles, made a couple of films, even. I'd gotten and given up a tenure-track teaching job, and taught elsewhere and privately, too. I'd moved across the country a couple of times since my first novel was published. In other words, I kept busy, which is sometimes the same thing as productive and sometimes not.
But I was not really a writer. "A real writer is someone who really writes," Marge Piercy says in her rather profound poem "For the Young Who Want To."
This is not to say that someone else had penned my novels--the published one or the endlessly revised one--or articles or any of that. It was just that, despite knowing better, I had a sort of passionate, on-again, off-again relationship with the kind of Writing that hangs out in clubs with people who call themselves "Inspiration" and "Great Idea" and "Excitement." They have little gang rumbles with people who call themselves "Doubt" and "Brilliant Editor" and "You Could Do Better."
Having babies got me really focused. I couldn't hang out with that kind of writing anymore, had no time for skirmishes or romances or other capital-D Distractions. But did I have time to write?
That's when NaNoWriMo came along. It sounds goofy, amaturish, a crutch or a scam or some kind of edifice with nothing behind it, perhaps. But what, you may be asking, is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo, Friends, is National Novel Writing Month. A web site; a sort of a program; a contest in which the number of winners is unlimited. Check it out at http://www.nanowrimo.com . . .
So there I was with the two babies, and after they would fall asleep, around 7 or 8 p.m., I would sit down, half-asleep myself, and type out about 2,000 words. (Officially, you must write 50,000 words between Nov. 1 and midnight on Nov. 30 to "win." This works out to 1667 words/ day, but I started a day or two late, so I aimed for 2000 words. Also, I knew that I would be cutting so much of what I wrote, that I felt I had to get over 80,000 before I stopped.)
I crossed the 50,000 word line at the end of November, and then I kept on going, at a slightly less hectic pace, but more or less the same, until about Xmas, when I got to about 85,000 words and the end of a draft.
Those are the logistics. Also included are writing buddies, all sort of cafe events and marathons across the country (none of which I participated in because of the aforementioned babies), pep talks sent out by NaNoWriMo from various authors, and forums where you can get advice, solicit plot suggestions, comiserate, or just waste time.
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I hope you'll come visit me there, leave a comment or just read the rest. Thanks! Elizabeth]