Lindsey Grant @ Tue, 2008-09-09 17:49
I needed to talk about it, so I finally admitted my crazy obsession with National Novel Writing Month to my husband.
It was late October. I was sitting at the keyboard, filling in dates and to-do’s on my November 2007 calendar page. November was shaping up to be a nonstop month, packed with family and social obligations; I was already feeling overwhelmed. When an email came in from the NaNoWriMo coordinator for Tucson, who I knew casually through BookCrossing, I sighed a big sigh as I replied that there was no way I would have time to even think about entering. My calendar was crammed. There was no 'me' time. There never was any 'me' time.
I tried, but I couldn’t get the ‘NaNo bug’ out of my mind. Plot lines and characters' voices were racing around in my head. I needed to talk about it, so I finally admitted my crazy obsession with National Novel Writing Month to my husband. At the same time, I acknowledged the impossibility of being able to fit in any time to write.
Sensing my disappointment, and understanding me better than I understood myself, he knew it was time for me to put myself first. It had been a rough year. Family obligations were burning me out. He pushed me to jump in, to give it a try. No pressure, no goal in mind, no worries about reaching the 50K minimum word count, just get my feet wet this time. He would do what he could to help me free up time to write.
So, I started writing. A storyline took shape and my characters began living their lives. I reached 7,157 words on November 3rd and, to my surprise, I discovered that my characters still had more to say. I stayed up late at night, my husband patting my shoulder as he headed off to bed alone, honestly pleased to see me absorbed and charged-up in a project of my own. I kept writing.
I hit 17,000 words, and my characters wanted to go on. Their complicated lives needed resolution. November unfolded. I planned birthday parties, made calls to social workers regarding an elder-care situation, and still found time to write. I hit a wall at 24,000 words. My husband encouraged me to talk the plot kinks through, and I hit the keyboard again, renewed. His 60th birthday came and went—the surprise party was a roaring success—and I kept on writing.
By November 17th, I was over 34,000 words. A novel was actually forming—a story with a beginning, a middle, and the ending I knew I could write. My eyes burned and pins and needles had settled into my right hand, but now I couldn’t stop. Not reaching the 50K goal was no longer an option. I needed to write as much as the story wanted to be told.
I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 12 and still managed to find time to write without neglecting my houseguests. And I did it. I reached the November deadline with 55,054 words. I had drafted my first novel. My husband cheered my accomplishment and even bragged a bit about me to his friends. But it didn’t end there.
My husband is an amazing man. On Valentine’s Day 2008, he told me that he’d been working on a special gift for me since my birthday (in early Feb.), and it was finally ready to be picked up. I wasn’t to ask any questions, just sit tight and be patient. We drove into town and turned into an older residential area. I was asked wait in the car while he knocked on the door of one of townhouses. I waited as patiently as I am capable of, and wondered if the gift might be a set of custom-made bookshelves. I’d really been wanting some new bookshelves.
A few minutes later my husband got back into the car and dropped a heavy object, awkwardly wrapped in paper towels, into my lap. Completely bemused, I peeled back the paper towels and unwrapped a hard-back book, the title in gold letters: Skipping Stones by Lynn Nicholas. My NaNoWriMo draft. My book in print. Tears blurred the title. I just couldn’t believe he had done this.
My husband could barely contain his excitement. He had tracked down a book-binder—an elderly gentleman who does custom book binding out of his home—and, with the help of the editor in his office, he had my NaNoWriMo rough draft formatted for print, created an author's bio page complete with a photo, and had my manuscript bound as a hardback book. He couldn’t have bought me a more incredible gift if he had gone to Tiffany's.
I swore to myself that I would never complain about my husband again (fingers crossed, of course). While my 'novel' is rough and raw and, if I ever finish it, will end up barely resembling the very rough draft, this hardbound copy marks a milestone. It represents a setting a goal and reaching it. It marks a formal starting point. Seeing my words bound between the book covers was an indescribable feeling. Knowing that my husband understood how much this accomplishment meant to me was an even better feeling.
Lynn (59) lives in Tucson, AZ with her huband, David, and her Australian Terrier, Lizzie. Writing has always been a private passion; NaNoWriMo has pried her out of the closet. 2007 was the first year she entered. She is looking forward to trying again in 2008.