Every year, I ambitiously sign up to participate in National Novel Writing Month, affectionately shortened into the impossible-to-pronounce-because-it’s-not-a-real-word NaNoWriMo. And every year, I’ve written a grand total of 5,000 words. Tops.
November is the busiest month of the year. Couldn’t we have MarNoWriMo? Or even FebNoWriMo? Nothing happens in February. I could probably churn out the 50,000 in a week. But no. The fine folks who established this writing flurry decided that November was THE month to crank out a novel. And so I continue to sign up, to commit to cheerleading and ass-kicking support groups, to vow to write a novel in a month (despite having never written a novel before in my entire life).
This year I actually started on November 1st. It wasn’t planned. I was on a train back from New York, and I was recalling the conversation I’d had with my friend the night before. I’d told her about my son, an amazing little kid who has just started to recognize and articulate the questions and the longings that surround his adoption. Just the other day, I found him sitting in the kitchen floor, very close to tears. When I asked him what was wrong, his lip trembled and he said, “I want to go back to Ethiopia. I want to see the people that I came from.” He’s four. I don’t know if I’m ready for these conversations, but ready or not, they’re here.
As I was thinking, Inspiration tiptoed down the aisle and slid into the seat next to me. (That’s been half of my battle since graduating, I think. I need space for inspiration to visit. I need quiet and still and peace for a fixed, uninterrupted amount of time. With three kids of my own and any number of foster kids, quiet, still, peace, and uninterrupted amounts of time are non-existent. Inspiration doesn’t come to close these days. What with all the noise and chaos that is currently defining daily life, I might bite its head off, and we don’t really want that, now do we?) In the quiet space of the train, the orange autumnal afternoon rushing silently past outside of the window, Inspiration broke into my chain of thoughts. “Write it down,” she said. (She sounded remarkably like my friend from the evening before. She, too, had told me to write it down.)
And so I did. I wrote about my life. By the end of the month, the novel will be fiction. But for now, as a starting place, I’m writing about my life. I’m writing about the things that happen, the conversations I have to have with my kids and my foster kids, conversations that other parents don’t have because they haven’t chosen the same path I have. This is the stuff of my every day. And in less than an hour, I had the first 1,453 words of my 50,000-word novel. Only 48,547 more words to go.