The important people in my life know that I am participating in Na No Wri Mo this month. It’s a grueling competition in which novelists and would-be novelists alike commit to writing a novel in 30 days. The minimum amount of words it takes to win is 50,000 — pretty short for a novel, but the point is to get us writing. The rules say no editing — so, basically, they want a skeleton-novella, which should provide the impetus for the author to then flesh out after Na No Wri Mo concludes on November 30th. Doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? If you do the math, it’s just under 1,700 words per day. Doable, yes? Certainly…until I fall a day or two behind. Then it begins to feel like a monkey on my back and the pressure becomes a bit uncomfortable.
I’ve learned something in the 10 days I’ve been furiously hacking away at my laptop: I cannot write 1,700 words every day. I can write when the ideas want to flow and my characters want to cooperate. That means some days I can hammer out some major work, and others I’m dry as a bone. So I’m not sweating it and I’m not forcing the flow of my creativity, because when I do that my writing suffers.
Last night I was much farther behind than a day or two. I’m 8,700 words behind Na No Wri Mo’s goal for this Sunday. I had planned to make dinner and settle in for a marathon writing session. I don’t know why I ever bother making plans because things never go as I intend. Just as we finished our supper, Jedi told me that Melody was at the door needing assistance because she was hurt. Apparently she had fallen at work and twisted her ankle and was afraid to drive all the way home with such a painful injury. I put an ice pack on the ankle and we chatted for a while. Then the family decided to play Apples To Apples. Good times. We always laugh and tease each other, and I don’t think anyone realizes how healing these times are for me. From Apples we transitioned to ImaginIff and before I knew it, the clock read 10:30. Oops!
The guys wanted to settle in for a few hands of Magic: The Gathering and I was already writing the next part of the novel in my head, so I sat down for just a second next to Atticus. He took my hand…and that was it. I wasn’t going anywhere. I’d spent all week missing him and looking forward to the weekend so that I could…hole up in my room and write for 20 hours? Um…no.
Atticus does for me what no other person has ever done. All it takes to set me to rights is for him to hold me, whisper in my ear that he loves me, or call me Baby. It’s nourishment for my heart and soul, and I spent so many years starving for this that I cannot just turn it away. I sat with my love and he explained the game as he played. When the round was over, the boys and Atticus asked me to play, and at first I declined because I don’t understand the game, and also the word count was poking relentlessly at the back of my brain…but I gave in.
I played. I even won the round — don’t ask me how — but the winning isn’t what I enjoyed. It was the time with the guys. They were so patient while explaining the game, which is incredibly confusing, to say the least. Silly as it may sound, something deep within me was immeasurably moved when my husband said he would sacrifice himself and die to keep me alive in the game. Yes, I know, it’s just a game, but I see him sacrifice himself every day — for me, for his kids, for my kids — for us.
I cannot explain to you what a gift — a priceless treasure — this man is to me, but maybe just in saying it you can grasp how deeply and madly I love him. When we finally crawled into bed early this morning, he apologized for keeping me from my writing. He doesn’t understand that it was not him, or anyone else that kept me from my writing. Really, it’s times like these that make it possible for me to continue writing. Loving my family and being loved in return feeds me, which in turn sustains my writing.
And you know how I look at it? On my death bed am I going to look back and wish I’d spent the evening alone, writing for Na No Wri Mo? I think not. I spent the evening being fed the soul-sustaining manna of laughter, love, and tenderness.