Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Winner!

Did you see my NaNoWriM Counter over to your right?  Take a peek.

See it now?  See what it says?

It say's Winner!
(Please note that "winning" NaNoWriMo is very much like completing a marathon.  It does not matter who got it done first, or who wrote the best story out of all of the stories written.  It's personal.  Finishing a marathon is Winning in and of itself.   NaNoWriMo is very much the same thing-- "Winning" = "Finishing.")

So, I did it!  I won!  I finished! 

I wrote a novel this month.

I actually typed in the words, The End.

My word count is currently at 52,730.

I am crazy, giddy, happy.

I feel like I should have an Academy Award speech.  Essie suggested this one:

"I'd like to thank the Academy and the Public Schools of America" for educating my children and giving me uninterrupted hours of peace and quiet each morning to write.

It's so true.

As sappy and formulaic as this might sound, this entire process has resulted in so much more than just writing an entire novel.

I'm not sure if people who have not been a stay at home mom or who do not parent a small army of children will understand this, but I know for certain that those of us who find themselves in this role can understand this. 

For years, I have put pretty much ALL of me into raising my family.  Which is something I wholeheartedly love and have chosen to do.

Looking back, I would not have done any of it differently.  I love being a Mom.  I don't feel like I was robbed or cheated of myself in those early years.  I mean, a lot of those hours were spent merely keeping the little rugrats alive (especially Paloma!  Man, that kid had a wild streak and seemed like she was born with the tattoo "Death Wish" written over her fearless little heart.)  I certainly don't regret those keeping-'em-alive hours I gave.

I loved the hours spent nurturing my children into the people they are today.  In turning my house into a home. I don't regret those hours either.  Truth be told, I don't even mind when I think of all those house I spent in doing the unglamorous work of cleaning up after sick kids,  healthy kids, kids-who-could-turn-out-dirty-laundry-like-they-were-Oompa-Loompas-churning-chocolate.

It's all part of the Motherhood territory.  And I'm okay with that.

As my children age, and need my immediate supervision less and less, and demand so much less of me on a day-by-day basis (oh the joy of children who got their own snowpants on going out to play in the snow!),  I find that I now have things within me to fill.  I have time to work on myself.

When I put my children in public school this year, a huge part of my intent was two-fold:  One) I needed time to rest and heal my battered self from the summer and life as a trauma mama.  Because, the honest-to-goodness truth of it is that parenting children with trauma and attachment issues takes a HUGE toll on a mother.


Two) I needed to Reclaim Myself, both as a woman whose children are growing and becoming adults who now is finding time and freedom, and as a woman who has had trauma (not my children, mind you, but the actual toll that comes from living with severe trauma around the clock) has done to chip away at my self.

Writing a novel, 'winning' NaNoWriMo, has awarded me with something far bigger than a novel:  this process has been about me Reclaiming Myself.

My brain.
My creative energies.
Parts of me that I did not connect with or utilize for years now.

I feel so very alive.  I feel the electric charge that one feels when they are surrounding themselves with their creative powers.

This has been a marathon of sorts for my spirit.  To know that I can stick with it, keep going, try new things.  Work through the 'stuck times.'  It's all been good.

So very, very good. 

Monday, November 12, 2012


My "official" word count at close of day yesterday, Sunday, was 21,022.

I am finding this entire experience to be exhilarating.  And challenging.  And framework-changing.

The strongest feeling and thought I have at this point in the novel-writing process is this: 

I never should have been afraid to just jump in and write down the story.

Yet, for years, I was.  Doubt always ate away any potential inkling that maybe I should write it down.

For years, I've imagined up scenarios with this character, but in my head, those story lines never seemed very developed.    Each morning I take the dogs for a walk, and in my head, I would think out llittle plots and details.

Those walks are an hour tops and well, I felt there was only so much I can do, in my head, in an hour. Especially when I have to focus on the important stuff like crossing busy streets, or visiting with the occassional fellow dog walker, or picking up doggie doo without getting it on my mittens.

Namely, I felt like I was not creating enough in my head during that time to give it any merit.

So, for years, I've been hesitant to put the story down.  For lack of developed plot, lack of interesting characters, or enough characters.  For fear of having an inauthentic voice in the creation of characters who think things and have careers outside the realm of my daily life.

Now I feel silly for letting all of those fears dictate me.  Chalk this up to a Big Life Lesson that I am so glad I have learned now, before another year goes by.

What I'm learning is that as I immerse myself into this world of writing a novel, my characters are coming to life.  My plot is deepening, growing, twisting and turning.

I mean, 7 days in for me, and I know how my novel is going to end!  I was so worried that I would have no idea how to end it.  I was unsure if there was even enough of a story to actually have an ending.

I still have the same routine of sorts.  I get up, get the the kids ready for school, and we walk the dogs with us on the way there.  I kiss my babies good-bye, then continue my walk with my canine companions for another half hour or so.  I give that time to thinking about my story.

I arrive back home, pour a cup of coffee, and sit down to write.

I'm learning to trust in the process.  That, like millions of writers before me have learned, that you sit and you put words on paper and you get that first draft down, quality and inner editor be damned.  I am reading the pep talks from other NaNoWriMo writers and I'm taking them as truth.  I am trusting in the same process that they trusted in.

I'm going to have a lot of work, post-first draft.

But I am SO very excited for that work.

I need to deepen my characters.  Work on building relationships with one another.  Deal with some quirky plot inconsistencies. 

I need to research certain careers.  I really need to look at a map or two and read some restaurant reviews.

It's gonna be fun. For real.  I'm not being facetious.  I'm so amped by this whole process.  Parts of my brain that haven't been used for years are being put into use again, being challenged and stretched.

When first beginning, I was mortified at the thought of having someone else read my work.  Not anymore.  That no longer scares me.  The draft will be there.  To be challenged, changed, improved.  After all the work that has gone into it, I no longer feel uncomfortable with the thought of letting someone else read it.

21,022 words.  Words that were non-existent before 7 days ago.  28,798 delicious words to go.

I am doing this.  And it feels good. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


I'm doing it.

NaNoWriMo  (National Novel Writing Month)

I'm going to write a novel.  In a month.  50,000 words is my goal.  Roughly 1,600 words a day.

I'm a bit behind, because I started 5 days late, but that's okay.  But I should be caught up by Days 10 or 11.

A huge coping mechanism from trauma parenting/life's issues for me (beyond Bones and trashy cable series-- Justified anyone?  OMG is it gooooo----oooooddd!), is having little stories going on in my head.  Alternative realities, if you will.  I think them up when I walk the dog, when I'm vegging out in a waiting room, etc.  I rather enjoy living vicariously through the people I create.

So, I'm taking one that I've had in my head for years running and I'm writing it down.

It won't be the "oh you've been through so much you should really write a book" book that people so often tell me to write.

Because, honestly, I don't know what I'd write about that just yet.

I don't doubt people when they tell me that.  There has to be a story to be told somewhere in the midst of all that's going on.  But the problem, for me, right now, is that I'm in the midst of it.  I find myself living in a huge metamorphosis where everything I know-- my definitions of love, trust, family, parenthood, friendship-- is being challenged and restructured.

I trust that the book inside me, about all of that, will come later.  

But, the caveat is that I have to start somewhere.  And later, I will have to get in the habit of writing.  But for now?

I just have to begin.

Writing is basically labor-intensive.  Someone on the NaNoWriMo blog labelled it "blue collar work" and I am finding it to be quite true.

NaNoWriMo sends out little "pep talks" each morning in the inbox they give you.

I like that.

This morning, Gennifer Albin sent out the message (and wow!  look at her blog!  Now I very much want Hatfield and I to read her book.)   Which basically boiled down to this:   Go through the process.  Write.  To be a writer, you have to believe it and you have to get it written down.

So I did what she told me:  I wrote on a sticky pad:

I will be a writer.
I will write books.
Starting this very month.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Thankful #2

Hatfield Louise is feeling VERY thankful this month, as yesterday morning she got her braces off!
Photo: Look who got her braces off this morning!!!
And 8 months ahead of schedule, too :)

I suppose I should say that I'm thankful we're not going to the orthodontist office once a month, but truthfully, I loved those appointments.  They meant quiet,uninterrupted knitting time for me.

 Oh well, 4 more kids' worth of Ortho Knitting time ahead of me.  If that's not a silver lining, I don't know what is ;)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Dad/Daughter Duo

Later on this month (on Thanksgiving, actually), the Mister and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage. 

Yet, our marriage was not the only thing that came out of that little elopement ceremony in a tiny little chapel on Capital Hill in Seattle.  An equally important union created that day: the creation of our family.  The Mister not only became a husband, but a father.

I am a very lucky woman to have married a man who so willingly, happily and openly welcomed Hatfield into his heart and his life.  Especially when we live at a time where society kind of turns a blind eye to "deadbeat dads" or dads who bring a ton of toxicity and poor relationships into their children's lives.  She was not his "burden to bear," yet, he never looked at her as a burden, but only as a joy.

Cliff has always put Hatfield and her happiness and her best interest first in his life.  He has never felt threatened by or stepped in the way of her relationship with her bio dad.  Last year, the Mister bought Hatfield and I plane tickets to Washington so she could see her birth grandparents and birth dad and his family as her 13th birthday present.  And this past May, when Hatfield's bio dad came out to visit, Cliff went for a 6-mile run with him one morning, just the two of them.  I am so grateful for my husband's ability to always, always take the high road and show his love for his girl.

Every day, I marvel at the close and wonderful relationship these two people have with one another.  "Experts" say that one of the greatest indicators as to whether a teen girl will be "successful" (as in, graduate high school, not get pregnant, go to college, have healthy relationships with teachers and peers) is whether or not she has a healthy relationship with her father.

Now, Hatfield is a great person.  She's been a delight to raise.  Those years when it was just her and I (and Ernie) are among the absolute happiest of my life.  I'm sure Hatfield would have turned out just fine had it been her and I.

But, her relationship with her Dad is phenomenal, and I think that has added so much more into the person she has become.
Hattie cracking up at Dad's attempt to make a scary face

Cliff is great at talking to her when I am bent out of shape, at working things out through emotional or horror-monal times.  He is always happy and willing to drive carpool, do late night dance pick ups, or get his girl ice cream at the end of a long day.

My mother once commented how she loves to see Hatfield jump into the front seat of Cliff's car and watch them laugh as they share a joke or try to find a mutually agreed upon song on the radio.

Hatfield has loooongggg loved all things scary.  She certainly shares that with her Dad, as he has introduced her to the likes of The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and all sorts of other creepy things  (my list is poor because I DO NOT LIKE SCARY!)  When her birth dad visited in May, she watched The Woman in Black with her Dad and her birth dad.  Clearly, scary runs on the paternal side in Hattie, as both her Dads like scary (and I DO NOT LIKE SCARY!!)

This year, we found out that a local haunted house  operates with volunteers, and that the minimum volunteer age is 14.  Meaning, Hatfield is old enough to work at the haunted house.

Most of the people working it are 15-25, so no way were we going to send Hatfield there by herself.  So the Mister made sure she was able to work there by volunteering and going along with her.

Case in point as to why we didn't let her go alone:  One day while standing in make-up line, a 21-year old guy chatted it up with Cliff.  Then he noticed Hatfield standing behind Cliff, and clearly didn't make the connection (people don't often assume that the lily white blond girl is the Asian guy's daughter.)    He side-stepped Cliff and approached Hatfield.

"Hi, I'm Robert, but all my friends call me Mac."  Puts his hand out for Hatfield to shake.  "And you are?"

Hatfield blankly stared at him.  "Okay." she responded, and turned around to talk to the person behind her.

"Dude, she's my daughter," Cliff informed his new friend "Mac."

And "Mac" went and found a new spot in line.  Imagine that.

Never mind the fact that her Dad was the oldest fellow in the joint, or that she was pretty much the only one with her parent there.  Hatfield couldn't have cared less.  She happily went each week with the Mister, showing up at 4 to stand in line for up to 2 hours for costumes and make up, and then working until 1 am.

They had a blast.

They came home each night looking creepified beyond belief.  I would usually fall asleep on the couch (watching Bones-- made it to Season 6!  NO SPOILERS in the comments!)  Upon their arrival home, the dogs going bonkers would jar me awake.  Half awake and jittery from the beserk dogs, I would go to the front door, terrified out of my mind, because I never knew what faces would greet me.

Faces like this:

That pic still makes me shudder :)

So as we approach our anniversary, in this Month of Thanksgiving, I can't help but to reflect on the things for which I am thankful.   And this relationship between my husband and my eldest daughter is definitely one of the things that I am most thankful for.