I really want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I really don’t have the time, and to be honest, I don’t even have the germ of an idea. Some of you know I’ve been in grad school for two years now, and I will be graduating in December. This November I will be wrapping up my work on my portfolio for grad school and preparing a presentation for a national English teachers’ conference. My friend Bud suggested I might spend the time revising my NaNo novel from last year, and my husband agreed with Bud. And they’re probably right. That is what I should do instead of grousing about not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. But I really wish I were participating. It was really fun to have the support of the rest of the NaNo writers. I felt a sense of camaraderie I don’t think I’ve ever felt as a writer. It gave me a thrill to enter my word counts each day, especially when I was ahead of my goals. I felt excited about what I was writing, too.
I have always been a writer mainly because no one ever told me I couldn’t. I can vividly recall making my own books when I was the same age as my youngest child—stapled pieces of notebook paper illustrated with my drawings. I pontificated on such subjects as healthy eating and bugs who live inside mushrooms. Then when I was older, I turned to poetry. I wrote a lot of awful poetry as a teenager. Finally about ten years ago, I wrote an entire novel. I never pursued publication vigorously. I admit to being completely clueless as to how one truly goes about finding agents and publishers. I finally published it myself on Lulu.
The NaNo novel I wrote last year languishes on my laptop. I haven’t tried to edit it. I haven’t even tried to read it. I can’t say why. I’m not scared it’s bad, necessarily. Well, I am, but that’s not why I haven’t read it. I think I am a bit scared of the time it would take to nurture it into print. If I am honest with myself, it is one of my most cherished dreams to become a real published writer with a book on the shelves that people actually want to read (and not just members of my family, who were so kind and supportive and bought my first book on Lulu). Bless all 18 people who have purchased a copy—as I said when I published it, that’s more people than would have read it on my computer. My mom’s cousin even told her it was good and she was proud to be related to the writer, which really puffed me up, and I’m being sincere. My dad even asked me to autograph it. But that’s not the kind of writer I really want to be. It reminds me too much of poor Emmeline Grangerford in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, spending all her time writing bad poetry that only her family admires, bless her heart, and then dropping dead and leaving that corpus of work behind her. *Shiver*
But I feel inspired. I feel inspired when I think of J.K. Rowling writing about her boy wizard in a café, feeling as low as she had ever felt in her life and living on government assistance. I feel inspired when I think of Stephen King typing Carrie in a trailer home, unable to afford a phone and receiving notification of his novel’s acceptance via telegram. I feel inspired when I read about the works of the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen, published at author expense and never really expected to do all that well. I don’t compare myself to any of these writers, but I know how they felt to want their writing to go out there into the world, and I also know how they felt to be afraid for that to happen. Obviously some people are going to hate it, and knowing that is like contemplating people hating your children. I mean, how could they?
I write all the time. But I don’t write creatively very much, and though I need for that to change if I am to be serious about writing, it’s hard to find the time. My high school English teacher is still a friend, and she occasionally chides me for going into teaching. She insists I should have pursued the writing with more gusto. I really want to. I really do. I really want to write something this month. I want to write alongside everyone else. I didn’t have any time to write last year either, I tell myself. Yet I did, and I actually finished—I wrote over 50,000 words. And Bud and my husband do have a point—I can and should work some more on that other novel. I really love my characters, Imogen and her father Jasper Medley. They are real to me. It’s strange what happens when you create characters and they take on life. I tell myself when I’m done with grad school, I’ll have time, but will I really? I mean, I didn’t write much for years, and grad school wasn’t the reason. Certainly being a mother takes up my time, but I was a mother when I wrote my other two novels.
I don’t have any grand conclusions. I am just throwing all of this out there. As I drove Sarah to see her dad today, I was thinking about all of this, and I knew I needed to wrestle with it in print, but I don’t know where to go from here. Do I sign up for NaNoWriMo in the 11th hour and see what happens? Do I take good advice and rip apart my novel so I could try to get it published? Do I do neither one? I don’t know.