Last year was year of big changes. This year has been big, too, but last year was REALLY big.
Last year, I stopped homeschooling (well, all the children except Hatfield, but she was in a really great online public school, so technically she was public schooled, just at home) and sent the small children out the door and around the block to our local school.
Many tears, fears, worries and qualms were dispelled the moment they burst into the door after their first day of class. They LOVED it. And they still do. School has been a great thing, for all of us.
Homeschool was the right thing for us when we did it. Some of the best memories of my life were while we homeschooled. I truly believe that it really helped shape our our older kids-- which fortunately trickled down to the younger set-- and it was the right thing at the right time.
But dynamics change, so you assess and adjust. We did, and have no regrets.
Someday, I'll share the story of what set that HUGE change into motion. Now THAT is a great story. It involves a ghost, a medium and a tearful 6 am walk with my dogs on an August morning. Sounds like the start of a joke, but I assure you, it's not. THAT story will likely leave you convinced that I am either super awesome or super crazy, and well, that story is for another day.
Today, I'm going to write about my book.
Rewind to last September. I was a Mom Experiencing Freedom for the First Time, since pretty much ever, as I had Hatfield just as I was entering 'serious' adulthood ('serious' adulthood because I was taking it seriously. Not 'default' adulthood thrust upon me by a birthday.)
So what did I do, come September, when all of my children were away from the home for 6+ hours a day?
Well, first, I slept. Because, sheesh, for 15 years, I considered a sleep to be exotic. And, because I was really, truly, freaking T-I-R-E-D.
Then, I watched the first 5 seasons of Burn Notice on Netflix.
Then I slept some more.
Then I watched the first 7 seasons of Bones on Netflix.
Then I knitted a bit.
Then it was Halloween.
Seriously. (Don't judge. I have 5 kids. I was REALLY tired.)
Seriously, though, you know how you think, Oh, when my kids are in school I'm totally going to paint a bunch of rooms, and clean the basement, and organize my closet, and re-landscape my yard, and work out, and resurface my kitchen cabinets just like I saw on Pinterest?
Yeah, that doesn't happen. Like ever.
Anywhoo, come the end of October, I thought: I really should have something to show for my time to myself. Hmmmmmmmm. . .
And the thought ended there.
UNTIL, I heard about NaNoWriMo. Courtesy of one of my most REAL LIFE favorite besties, The Accidental Mommy.
(Yes, that is my TOTALLY and SHAMELESSLY wagging my real life friendship with Essie right in your face. 3 years of great friendship has not nullified my complete adoration/slight obsession with her awesomeness. And you would too if you were me.)
Anyone, the Divine Miss Essie introduced me to National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.
What is NaNoWriMo? you ask. Is it for me? you ask.
Well, if you want to:
then NaNoWriMo is for you.
Last year, a week into November, I decided that NaNoWriMo was for me. After all, I had a writing degree. People (okay, my family...OKAY, my Mommy, but she TOTALLY counts because she's awesome AND smart) had always been telling me I should write a book. And, I had a story kicking around in the cobwebby recesses of my mind for some time (i.e. years), and I wanted to see where I could take it.
So I did it. I knocked out a 57k word novel in less than a month. The story was in my head, wrote itself, and was a helluva fun ride.
(I'm from the generation that has to use the word "helluva." I can't use "hella." I just can't. One, I think it sounds stupid. Two, I don't understand how to use it. Three, I call it stupid as a way of compensating for not being cool enough to know how to use it.)
I thought, back in February, that I would begin to edit the book. Because, wubba, it was my first attempt and needed hella editing.
See? I can't pull it off. Sorry.
It needed a helluva a lot of editing.
However, something else was going on at that time, and that something else was: A crash course in Novel Structure.
I read about Novel Structure, and plot, and characters, and subplot, and tension, and protagonsists vs. antagonists, and so on and so forth and on and on.
I quickly realized that my first crack at a book was missing. . .oh, pretty much everything.
That's not me being self-defeating (I almost wrote, 'sadist' because a sadist sounds like a self-defeating person, but wow, Thank God for the online thesaurus! Totally saved myself there.) Or too hard on myself. It's just me looking at my novel, evaluating it against the checklists, and coming up a weeee bit whole lot short.
And you know what?
It's totally okay that it came up short. Because, like I said, I had a great time writing it, and because it was in my head for such a long time, it was really cool to see it down on print.
But, it's not something I want to try and fix. The entire process of taking something from my mind that had been there so darn long and putting it down on paper (or computer screen) was extremely cathartic.
The process, itself, regardless of the end result, was enough.
In fact, it was exactly what I needed.
But this next Saturday, I'm going to try again. NaNoWriMo'14, and I want the t-shirt, baby.
With a new story. One that's much more intricate and developed. One that has been growing, along with my knowledge and understanding of novel building. One that I began writing early this summer, but then stopped, because creatively, I was stuck.
Yet, something funny happens each fall. I'm back to walking the kids to school, in the company of my canine companions, and then walking the neighborhood with the pooches.
As I walk, I plot. I create characters. I create the story.
And it has taken off.
So I'm going to try again. And this time, this time I think I just may have something there to share.