Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

When I think of the writing contest NaNoWriMo,I picture myself sitting in front of the computer at 2 a.m. while nursing my newborn and wondering what in the world I was thinking when I signed up for it that second year. Not only did I commit to the month-long write-a-thon while welcoming a brand new human being into our life, I agreed to write a weekly column for the Statesman Journal documenting the experience. It was a crazy, cool month but with the whole sleep deprivation thing I'm afraid it didn't yield The Novel of a lifetime. What it did do, though, is open the door for focusing on my writing at a time when it seemed impossible. I also got some good free-writing out of it.

That being said, I won't be doing it again for awhile. While I encourage anyone intrigued by the idea to jump in because it truly was an awesome experience, two years was enough for me until I complete a few of the books I've already started. The thing about NaNo is you have to start a project from scratch Nov. 1st with the goal of finishing it by the end of the month.

When I decided to sit out NaNo earlier last month, it was because I knew I had my own deadline approaching for a finished manuscript of Breaking Branches. The deadline I so boldly, and ugh! publicly set, in the face of being pregnant with an ever-evolving toddler. Read that: getting taller and reaching new heights, so to speak. I think I mentioned our recent run-in with Poison Control after he manged to climb up to the medicine cabinet I was so sure was out of his reach. Nothing, it turns out is out of his reach now that he's demonstrated what a clever little guy he is.

While I proved to myself that I could write, a lot, even as I adjusted to my new role as Sam's mama I also am realizing that there's a point I need to call "Uncle!" All this is to say, I've arrived at that point.

My writing is fractured again as I fight exhaustion to meet my word count goals. I'm edgy and frustrated when I pick rest over work and I'm back at that point where I feel like no matter what I'm doing at that moment, I should be doing something else.

At least I was feeling that way before I had myself a nice little meltdown and broke down on Matt. He looked at me like I was crazy. (In his defense, I was a little). Then he simply suggested I change my deadline.

"But I already set it."

"Right. So YOU can change it."

"But I announced it on my blog."

"And mostly people who like and care about you read it, right? You've said it's been an awesome source of support for you."

"Yes but …" He kind of had me there. Then I remembered why I set the date in the first place. "But if I don't finish it now, I'll never do it. NEVER!" (There was crying at this point. Near hysteria.)

It turns out plenty of women have achieved many of their personal goals after becoming mothers. It's just hard to admit that sure, you can have it all, just not at the same time. Sometimes you have to pick your priorities and as badly as I want to finish this novel and send it out into the world, I want to grow a healthy baby, prepare for his arrival, enjoy my last weeks with Sam as an only child and, frankly, sleep while I can. Without having some help with Sam, I can't do those things plus keep working in middle-of-the-night margins. I intend to keep plucking away at it, though I haven't figured out my new goal yet. I will, of course, keep you posted.

5 thoughts on “Sitting out NaNo, and other changes

  1. I shed a tear or two when I read this and then felt a tremendous sense of, “I’m so proud of her!” This choice you’re making, to put your health and your family ahead of your goal is admirable. How strong is the woman who can recognize the need to shift course and then actually do it?
    That novel will get finished. It will find it’s way into the world. But it’s not going to be the same story; this is the thing I love most about the way life and writing evolve. Come January you will be changed. Life will be different. It will be better and more full than you ever thought possible. Yes, it will be hard, that’s just the dose of reality served up in the life of mothering through the early years. All this to say that as you slow down the writing, life will be giving you more to work with. Simply put, the plan didn’t work out…but perhaps, the change of plans was part of the plan all the while.
    You’ve accomplished much in your focused writing sessions. Now let it marinate. Let it simmer. Let life’s changes color the next chapter.


  2. AmyC says:

    I will call you tomorrow. I have too much to say here.


  3. mel says:

    Good for you! We all need to reevaluate from time to time. I love the previous comment of …a change in plans was part of the plan all the while….
    I second that sentiment! You are doing so much so be good to yourself!


  4. Been there and I, too, admire your ability to prioritize. Also love that Matt is there to assist you in evaluating what they are. Life evolves and each day brings new challenges and fresh perspectives. All of this will enrich your writing at every phase.
    xxx u.p.


  5. Nadya Zimmerman says:

    Mathew read this outloud to me while we were “feeding” Kairo . . . ok, there was a blueberry flinging contest that substituted for actual dinner.
    You are just awesome. Howling, real, genuine. Thank you.


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