Finally. I’m on my own. I have a cup of tea in my blue and white floral patterned mug and two digestive biscuits on a non-matching but equally as pretty plate. I’ve just set a timer for one hour. After opening my laptop and starting a new page, my husband took my picture, fingers hovering over the keyboard. I barked at him to “Go away!” He complied. Oh, and I’ve sworn off social media for the next 59 minutes.
You see, I’m starting a new habit tonight: I’m writing.
What does this mean? I’ve got no idea. I just know that I’m doing it. I signed up to take part in National Novel Writing Month this year (or NaNoWriMo – isn’t that fun to say?) That means that in the month of November, I’ll follow a prescribed set of rules, along with thousands of others around the world, banging out a specific word count each day, not editing, just writing, and at the end of 30 days, I should have written a novel. A lofty goal? Well, duh. Do I really think I’ll write a novel? No. Well, yes. I’ll follow the rules of the project but I have no expectation I’ll have something coherent that I wish to share. But you know what I’ll have done? I’ll have tried something new. And at age 49, that makes me a little giddy.
The room I’m writing in is my daughter’s former room. It feels so odd to say that, to write that. We’ve lived in this house for more than 16 years. Two weeks ago my daughter, now 21 started her final semester of college, and moved into an apartment with three other girls (okay, young women). Earlier in the summer, leading up to the move she made it sound so dramatic. “I’ll only be home three nights this summer (she had an internship in DC) and then I’ll never live here again.” What? What did she mean by that? Of course she’d still lived here. This is her home. And up until two weeks ago she had this room with it’s four poster canopy bed that was mine since I was three (bought second-hand even then). But now? Now the room is relatively bare, and I think she wasn’t being all that dramatic. Oh sure, the walls are still hung with photographs from Twicon (the Twilight Conference we went to together in 2007). But instead of her bookcase filled with every book in the Nancy Drew series, the Twilight series, and the Harry Potter series, as well as nearly all the Mr. Men and Little Miss books, there are boxes. The Nancy Drew, Twilight, and children’s books are still here. The Harry Potter series went on its annual pilgrimage back to college with her.
Time check. It’s been 19 minutes. I still have 2/3 of a cup of tea and half of a digestive biscuit left. I can do this.
The swell of classical music is coming from the other room. My husband is writing too. Well, maybe he’s looking at camera equipment for sale on Craig’s List; I really don’t know. The dog, or Lady Claire as we call her has traipsed in twice so far. I anticipate further visits before the hour is up.
So here I am, getting in shape so to speak to write. The first step for me, well, after signing up for the novel writing month is to read a book that a dear friend and former colleague, Cathy gave to me in 2010. It’s called “The Maeve Binchy Writer’s Club.” Ms. Binchy, who sadly passed away last year, was one of my favorite writers. In addition to being a brilliant storyteller, she wrote this sort of “how to” book after giving a 20-week course at The National College of Ireland. It’s got a lesson each week, including topics such as, “Telling a Story”, “Sustaining Progress, and “Finding Your Voice”. I’m just sure that after reading the whole book I’ll feel like the 49-year old Kansan embodiment of the dearly departed Irish writer Maeve. No? Probably not. But I’ll bet I enjoy it and learn a few things along the way.
Taking part in National Novel Writing Month is something I added to my 50 before 50 list about 3 years ago. Really, I wasn’t sure I’d do it. Then two nights ago I had a dream. I woke up and thought, I should write that down. Then another thought; maybe that’s an idea for a story. So I jotted down everything I could remember from the dream, and saved it in a file. I know, I know. Sounds cliche. But I did and that’s a fact.
Between now and November I plan on getting into shape. Well, literary shape at any rate. I’m taking the first piece of advice from the Maeve Binchy book, and setting aside 5 hours a week to write. Maeve did her writing at 5 in the morning. I already rise at 5:30 am, and since I’ve got no small children to corral, and no demanding social schedule, I decided to write in the evenings. My husband, who I consider my partner in so many ways, is also doing some writing. We agreed that in the evenings, we’d stick with our normal routine for the first couple of hours. This means home from work then 45 minutes on the stationary bikes, followed by a salad from Trader Joe’s and an episode of some show we both enjoy (currently Blue Bloods, the NYC crime drama staring Tom Selleck – don’t judge). After that, we’d go our separate ways for one hour. I could stay in the same room, sitting at the little desk by the window where my laptop normally lives, or I could go into another room. Tonight I opted for another room. And as I’ve already said, it’s formerly my daughter’s room, which now doesn’t contain a bed, but has this desk, boxes of boxes, and 20 pairs of shoes she may or may not wear again (yes, I counted).
Wow – the hour’s nearly gone. But I’m guessing this is like a lot of things; not so tough to get started when you’re oh-so-motivated, but harder as the days go on. We’ll see. Whatever the case, I’m excited.
I don’t plan to blog what I write each day. But after drafting this and rereading it, I might post this one. And maybe some others. Again, we’ll see. I have a few dear faithful blog readers that I’m ever so grateful for. If you’d like to come along for the ride, you’re very welcome. And if you too are taking part in NaNoWriMo this year or have in the past, I’d love to hear about that.
Well, my tea cup is empty and my hour is nearly up. Until tomorrow…