Thursday, November 18, 2004


Somehow, I'm utterly amazed that it's November 18th, and I'm finding a spare nanosecond (no pun intended) to update this thing at all. I had assumed that the entire month of November would be spent on an intravaneous drip of Maxwell House, taped into a large pair of Depends undergarments, with an AlphaSmart velcroed to my wrist.

Go figure, I have some free time.
Celebrate the moments of your life . . .

My NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) entry is hovering around 29,000 words right now, a bit off from the 30,000 I have to hit today in order to maintain the lowest level of on-timeness. I do have time to get the other thousand words written, though, so no sweat there. "Survivor" doesn't come on till 8:00.

Being able to write a sentence like that last one is amazing to me, and shows me all by itself what participating in this challenge has already taught me. I'd decided to participate this year after a good friend (Louise) prodded a bunch of her writer friends to try it out. (She'd participated last year as well.) On a lark, I visited the web site and within minutes I'd signed up. Here was the drop-down-dead deadline I needed to get my arse in gear and writing-writing-writing instead of nitpicking-nitpicking-nitpicking. Now I had no excuses. The die had been cast. The gauntlet had been thrown down. Lunch had been thrown up.

I promptly bought an AlphaSmart 2000 from an eBay auction ( ) and it arrived just days before the start of NaNoWriMo. The giddy anticipation of those last hours before midnight, November 1st, were unlike anything I'd ever experienced as a writer. ("Giddy" and "writing" just never really ended up in the same universe for me before. Let's face it: I got into "the zone" less than Kordell Stewart.)

Suddenly I found I was writing for the sake of writing, writing words to get on to the next small plot point and not for the sake of having something to scribble on with red ink. Writing without it being perfect the first time was an entirely new concept for my brain, and retraining my brain to think differently about first drafts has been the one true gift of participating in NaNo. Between the hard and fast deadline and using a device like the AlphaSmart, that makes going back and editing your work a total impossibility, I think by the end of November I will be a very different kind of writer. I will be a freer writer. It is liberating.

Where once I would have felt as if I were pulling teeth to write over a thousand words a day, every day, now I seem to approach the daily task with an energy that would almost be contagious if I got any louder about it with family and friends. (They assure me I'm quite loud enough about it, thankyouverymuch.) Now, I can sit here at 5:30 in the evening, knowing I still have to churn out a thousand words for the day, just to catch up, and I can know that I'll be able to do it. There is no question in my mind ... aside from a catastrophic power failure (the AlphaSmart isn't backlit) or a catastrophic health failure. Unless it involves heavy blood loss over a short period of time, though, I don't intend to stay behind on my word count.

Earlier in the month, I had feared the onset of Thanksgiving during the fourth full week of NaNo, but now I look forward to it as a day off from carting around my little blue plastic keyboard. A day with family and friends. A day of gathering to count our blessings and thank God for all He has done for us over the past year.

And then I'll sneak off in a corner with a piece of pumpkin pie on a paper plate and write at least a few hundred words, just to be sure. It's just not worth the risk at this late date.