NaNoWriMo 2011 – the countdown begins!

I was horrified to read yesterday on Rachelle Gardener’s blog that NaNoWriMo starts in just 18 days.

Gah! Where did the time go? I was supposed to have The Dictator’s Daughter all spit-shined and shimmery by now, and ready to dive into The Printer’s Son unencumbered by the weight of a story not-quite-told.

Instead I’m stalled out about half-way through the read-aloud and deciding certain characters should be blood brothers to provide another layer of motivation for their evil manipulations.

National Novel Writers Month is November

And, of course, there are a few other differences between this year and last. One would think that having both kids in school all day would open up one’s schedule, but – yeah – not so much. Since this year I have a job. A job marketing the non-fiction book I wrote the year before that, Glitter in the Sun. A job that doesn’t pay hourly and that just got more intense as I learned the official release date has been tentatively set for November 7.

That’s just over three weeks to get my radio and print quotes ready to roll of my tongue. About 21 days to pull together several go-to outfits that say “respectable author with a youthful sensibility.” Less than a month to get my game face on. Or, rather, to get used to wearing my game face every day, since I have a tendency to skip the make-up most of the time.

Maybe I need to figure out what being a “published author” means to me…

I have preconceived notions of authors. They are somehow mysterious and glamorous creatures. Always quick with the right thing to say. They might be frumpy or slightly eccentric, but always in obviously high-end tweeds and very nice leather shoes. And a trench coat. An author should have a trench coat. “Marketing” means walking with their beagles to a farmer’s produce stand.

Instead, published author is shaping up to look a lot like every other mom I know, juggling a myriad of responsibilities and hoping not to drop the really important ones. For example, remembering to stop writing the Work-In-Progress in time to pick the kids up from school. That’s a good one.

And, put on make-up. No one really wants to picture their authors with circles under their eyes…

Alone Versus Lonely

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. As early as Junior High I began filling journals with observations, thoughts and feelings – not just the standard date, weather and what my mom served for dinner. I remember sitting on a swing under a tree writing a short story about owning a unicorn – just because I wanted to, never intending for anyone to see it. I was alone with my words and I was happy with that.

Now, 30-some years on, alone-ness is a rare and precious commodity. As a stay-at-home mom, I haven’t been alone for any stretch of time for eight years. Now my youngest is in preschool three mornings a week, and those six hours are golden. I treasure them. I hoard them. I make lists of the things to invest these perishable and irreplaceable hours into. At the top of that list is never laundry. Or dishes. Or sweeping the floor. Those things can be done when the boys are running through the house – just as they have been for the  past near decade. Instead, I write. I read about writing. I market what I’ve written. And I dream about what to write next.

What I am not during those beautiful golden hours is lonely.

No, I have the company of thoughts I haven’t heard clearly for eight years. I analyze my fears for validity. I root my dreams in reality and map the steps to achieving them. I review memories of small sweet victories and painful dramatic losses that clamor for a purpose outside of my head. A proverb I’ve heard all my life motivates me – and for once it’s not from the Bible. (Apparently it’s Swedish.) “Sorrow shared is sorrow divided, joy shared is joy multiplied.” So, with the promise from my creative God that nothing I lay on his altar of service will ever go to waste, I mine the depths of my mind, imagination and memory and give it all to Him.

So, to bring you joy, I share what makes me joyful. And to ease your sorrow, I will show you I am bearing that burden with you. And above all, I write to show that even when alone none of us ever needs to feel lonely.

(This post was inspired by the fantastic and helpful Rachelle Gardner, who has no idea who I am, but lets me read her blog posts anyway!)