Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I'm Bowing Out

Two years ago, I was introduced to NaNoWriMo by a friend of mine. I incorporated the idea into my classes at school, set a goal of 17,000 for my students (and myself, though anyone over the age of 18 is supposed to achieve 50,000 or more), and tried, valiantly, to write while taking care of a 14 month old, teaching and grading, and helping my husband run the house. I failed miserably - I wrote a grand total of 11,000+ words.

Last year, I tried again. I felt good. I left everything pertaining to school at school. My first steps in understanding, fully, that it was ok to do so (after 7 years struggling with that balance). Steve took on most of the household chores and was persistent in pushing me to write. It was a liberating experience, and breath-taking in its allowance of selfishness and loss of inhibition. And I "won." I made my word count goal with a November 30th count of 50,505 words, which allowed me to obtain 5 free bound copies of my manuscript. After the school year ended, I worked diligently for 3 additional days when I still had a full-time babysitter in Steve's grandmother, and finished my book. I published it myself; It still terrifies me to tell people I've done this. Ironic since I blog about it for the world to see, I know. But the fact is, I'm entirely self-conscious about my writing. Regardless, I feel there is some validity to doing things my way.

Still running on the adrenalin of creative juices, I started to plot out this year's NaNo novel, and awaited, anxiously, for November so I could begin.

Then, Life hit. Isn't that why we HAVE NaNo? Because Life hits all the time and we put things off? I recently taught a lesson in school on Langston Hughes' "Dream Deferred," and I use myself and writing as an example. But the truth is, Life can be quite selfish and vindictive at times.

My sister is doing a fantastic job of forcing Life to take a back seat to her dreams. I could not be more proud of her and all she's accomplished. I feel as though, in a way, we're taking these steps together, just on separate, but parallel, paths.

NaNo was my way for forcing Life to pause for a moment so I could do something selfish and for me. I prepared for November by keeping up with assignments at school, updating the grade book more quickly than I think I have my entire teaching career; I made sure to do small things at home to sanitize or straighten to eliminate the need to CLEAN; I multi-tasked - doing laundry and folding while watching tv or pausing in the middle of cooking to sweep, etc., all so I would be more prepared for the month of literary abandon and writing nonstop, and so my guilt at not being absolute Mommy or Teacher or Wife or (fill in the blank) would allow me to write my sequel to my first book.

Enter Hurricane Sandy and Random Nasty Virus. Syd came down with something horrendous right as the entire East Coast tried to prepare for the disaster. We were very lucky. We had the nearly hurricane strength wind (I think we topped off at 68 mph wind gusts - hurricane strength is 74) - we had rain, we had tree limbs down, we flickered with power. We were exceedingly lucky. My preparations were more necessary for the health of my son than for the hurricane, as I would not make it to school the entire week.

I had to leave early Monday to get Syd, who had a fever and just wasn't himself. He would fight that fever, and refrain from eating or drinking, for the next 3 days. Tuesday we were out of school due to the hurricane. Wednesday, Halloween, I called in to stay home with him. Thursday, I had not even made it through one full class before the school called for me to get him. Friday, he managed to make it an entire day. By that point, I was 2 days into NaNo, and hadn't written a word, and was unbelievably behind at school, and was desperate about getting to school to get supplies for a conference I have to go to tomorrow, and was just feeling... deflated.

I wrote Friday night. I am happy I did. But my heart wasn't in it, and I can't know for sure that my heart will return. We're still battling Syd's illness - he's no longer contagious, but the healing process is long. I've done more laundry the past 3 days than I have in one sitting since the entire family came for Thanksgiving and brought the stomach flu with them.

So, as much as I despair to give in, I am bowing out of NaNo 2012. I fully intend to do this again. I loved letting myself go and writing. I will sketch out my ideas for the sequel, and then let the guilt go. I have, instead, a new goal for the month of November - training.

I was doing well training over the summer. At some point in my life, I would love to run some 10Ks, and hopefully, a half marathon. But then I was interrupted by my own illness. By the time I finally determined what path to take for recovery, it was 3 months later, and we were enmeshed in the new school year. So, it is time to refocus. I have a new pair of running shoes that are crying out for a breaking in. And the Drumstick Dash is quickly coming up. If nothing else, I need to be in better shape if I'm going to pull Syd in his new wagon for 3+ miles!


  1. So sorry to hear about Syd's nasty virus! What a horrible week you had. I wish I had been there to help! But good for you for realizing your limitations and turning it into a positive. It can be so difficult to admit that we can't do it all and to make concessions. You may even find hidden graces in your decision. As they say, When life closes a door it opens a window. Take care of yourself and I will see you soon!:)XO PS- thanks for the shout out to me! Love you!

  2. One of the greatest lessons I've learned (and still must practice every day) is that it is OK to let go and let others help. I must let go of this. I've had no choice since then, either. All's well, though. :-)