Sidelined by Polly J Brown

November is my favourite month of the year. The leaves have finished their vibrant display of colours. The air has turned from the smoky, musk of fall to the crisp smell of flurries. Teams of geese have flown overhead, honking their goodbyes while they search for southern temperatures. All perfect excuses to huddle indoors near the fire with a warm cup of tea, and write.

And just by happy circumstance, November is also National Novel Writing Month.

This time last year, I had a confession to make; my characters and I just weren’t getting along, and the story I’d hoped to finish had morphed from a hot, messy romance to a big, hot mess. I didn’t like the idea of quitting especially since half a month gave me plenty of time to pull 50,000 words together, but I knew from previous experience that a rush job wasn’t for me.  Instead, I threw in the towel. At the time it was the right decision, and a year later I don’t regret it.

This fall as the days on the calendar crept from Labour Day to Thanksgiving, and onward to Halloween, November called.

Write a novel, it whispered.  You know you want to.

I did.

Nothing beats the high of ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo. To many, the certificate at the end may just be a piece of paper with cheesy graphics. For me, that certificate is a source of pride. A goal sparked by desire, fueled by imagination, and seen to completion by determination. Even better, by the end of the month, you have a novel. Sure a first draft, but it still exists on paper and not just in your head. The whole process from start to win is a thrill ride.

Come on. Sign up, November whispered again. Join the team.

I thought about for a month, flipping back and forth on the decision to register. At one point I thought about what story I’d write, and began to form an outline. And then the peer pressure began. Well, not peer pressure, more like peer participation. Writer friends began asking, “Are you doing NaNo?” Facebook groups I’d participated in last year suddenly became active with titles reading 2015 instead of 2014. But the worst were the emails NaNoWriMo sent out reminding me that November approached. *

Panic set in. I had to make a decision. What would I do?

My roster was overflowing. I’d spent two months neck deep in edits of my first novel which were finished the second to last week of October. I was in the midst of weekly beta reads which wouldn’t finish until mid-November. I had edits for a short story looming. And, there was another partially completed novel I’d been itching to return to.

Real life won out.

Laundry had piled. The house needed cleaning. I needed to spend time off the computer and in nature. With people — the real kind, not fictional ones.

This year, my butt is warming the bench while I watch friends and strangers type furiously toward the end game.

Even as I cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines with a foam finger and a ‘Go, Write, Win’ jersey, my face paint is envy green. I yearn to be out there with everyone- typing, pulling hair, earning that NaNo certificate.

If you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo I encourage you to investigate it, and if you are- there are nine days left. Go and write. Win. Not only for yourself, but for those of us who are cheering you on.

I’ll see you at the start line next year.

 

*For the record, I love the emails from the NaNoWriMo team. They are fantastic sources of motivation and inspiration.

 

Polly J. Brown manages money and people, both at work and home. She resides on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore with her husband, three children, and a geriatric beagle. She belongs to the Happy Author’s Guild Blog. When she isn’t dreaming of writing short stories, she is hard at work editing her first novel length work or distracting herself by writing a second.

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