Monday, November 17, 2008


Joan emailed me the other day and asked if I wanted to NaNo with her. Those of you who don’t write fiction may not know what she meant. I’m not versed on the origin of NaNoWriMo, but someone decided to challenge others to take the month of November and write a novel. Apparently quality isn’t the goal here, just quantity to the tune of 50,000 words in 30-odd days. I’m assuming you spend at least December revising and fine tuning it to be something readable. For some literary agents, the nightmare begins in early December when they receive all the NaNo first drafts in their inboxes as writers seek representation.

NaNoWriMo has grown to a support community where you get emails encouraging you to keep up with the word count. I have been saving mine to read later. (Those truly curious can click on the button on my blog here to the left, under my mug.)

So, since I’d already started a new manuscript, I signed up. Now it’s become a source of guilt because I’m so far behind on the word count, I probably couldn’t even finish a novella in time. Last time I wrote, I had 5,124 words. That was five days ago before my daughter came down with a virus. Then gave it to her brother. They are both still home from school today.

No, instead of writing my next novel (or on my blog), I’ve been playing board games and card games, reading story books and holding up flash cards. At times I’m the vet for an assortment of stuffed animals who somehow end up getting mauled by a large dog or stepping on nails. Don’t ask where she gets this stuff. The scanner on my daughter’s cash register doubles as a hand-held x-ray, and the stuffed puppies end up spending the night on the sofa recovering. The bill is getting expensive.

Now I’m trying to find food for two children who can’t seem to keep anything in them. Icee-pops anyone? I have been cautiously eating only a little and only things I don’t really like in case I’m the next victim. (I still can’t eat Burger King or Panda Express from my last vomit episodes.)

Sometimes I’ll sneak away to the computer, and I’ve been following the tragedy behind Nebraska’s safe haven law loophole that has sparked parents there to abandon their children in droves. The law was supposed to provide a no-fault escape for parents of newborns to leave their babies at hospitals or police and fire stations. Nebraska legislators couldn’t agree on a maximum age and therefore left it to read “child” as opposed to “newborns” as all the other states did. Now parents are dropping off hard-to-handle teenagers. Sadly two children escaped from their mother en route and are now missing. What horror this has been for these kids!

Parenting is not easy and even though I’m ready for a break from the demands of sick kids, I can’t imagine being so distraught that I would think my child better off with strangers than with me.

Okay, just like in my novels, sometimes my writing takes off in a direction I didn’t plan. As this blog post just did. The image of these abandoned children has weighed on my heart this week and here it is on the page now. Hopefully somewhere down the road, these kids will recover from their plights and make better lives for themselves. I hope Nebraska finds a way to make amends for their oversight. Maybe offer free parenting classes or a safe house for teens?


Joan Mora said...

Right there with ya. I think I was feeling pressure to write anything and I jumped into the book without having properly planned it out. Now, I'm just focusing on constructing the story. Maybe we'll be ready with a polished version by the time all those agents are fed up with the sloppy first drafts. :)

Kim Bullock said...

I didn't even attempt the novel in a month thing. I would much rather write a fairly polished draft first and then polish some more. Otherwise I'd just end up completely redoing everything, which would be a waste of time.

I'm also with you on the sick kids. Been there/done that last week and of course got sick myself as well.

Hope things are calming down for you now.