I have a dark secret, my friends: I am probably the world’s most undisciplined writer. (Though you may have already figured that out looking through this blog’s history.) The approximately two-year period of my life from August 2016 to this September– when I was working through the illness and subsequent loss of my beloved mom and six months of grand jury duty for my home county to top it off– in particular seemed like my personal “Jane Austen in Bath” period.
Then this last month, I was an assistant instructor in my local library’s Young Writers Program for National Novel Writing Month. I previously participated in NaNoWriMo in 2015 and ended the month having written less than 2,000 words of the 50,000 word count goal (though November 2015 turned out to be one of my most productive months for working on Time and Tenacity— I suppose I do thrive on contradicting my own careful plans!) One of the benefits of being an instructor, however, is that I could set my own word count goal, just like the kids.
So I decided on 25,000 words and dusted off one of my long-lingering ideas: a middle-grade novel about Cinderella’s pet cat. It looked for a while, especially after I got a sinus infection, like Cinderella’s cat was doomed to the rubbish heap with all my other un- and under-developed stories. I ended up having to slash 10,000 words off my final word count goal, but I forced myself to write at least one scene everyday in November even if it was ridiculous (and there were some pretty ridiculous scenes, including a pillow fight and a house made of chocolate.) It all paid off on November 29, 2018, when a tiny little trumpet played on my computer and little gold trophies filled my screen as I was furiously typing away: I had met my word-count goal!
I still have yet to determine if Cinderella and her cat will someday make it to a bookshelf near you, but this success really feels like it officially marks the end of a long, sad dry spell for me. In October, after returning home from the JASNA Annual General Meeting, I started writing the long-awaited Time and Tenacity, Volume II and I have just started development on a Time novelette centering on a character I decided this year I gave a pretty rotten deal to in the first book. And of course, Once Upon My Mind is still very much always on my own mind. I’ve learned in the past two years that nothing can be guaranteed, but I am praying and hoping that all three will be available by August 2019. If the last few years have also been discouraging for you and your art, I hope that 2019 will be the year the “productive switch” gets flipped back on for you.
Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Or have you done something else cool in your area of art lately? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!