Putting Words Where My Mouth Is

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Like a freight train barreling down the tracks in rural America in the dead of night, only the single headlight casting a small semicircle that glows in front of it, just enough to pick up the eyes of the animals scurrying out of the way, but not enough warning should there be a stalled tractor or farm truck on the tracks, it came. Yep, that’s how the insane idea of me signing up for NaNoWriMo traveled from some unknown place to my conscious thoughts. Or, more accurately, this is what the universe feels I need to do if I’m ever going to finish the Tanner Trilogy. I hemmed and hawed, looked at my crazy calendar with all my clients scheduled at different hours of each day, workshops that I’m giving, book signings that have taken me months to plan, and other opportunities that I know are hovering just on the other side of my current threshold, but I did it anyway. I signed up this morning, agreeing (or at least willing to attempt) 50,000 words in the form of a novel in the month of November.

In the past couple of years, I have dredged up rather creative excuses for not writing as I was once driven to do. There was a time, not so many years ago, that I could write anywhere, and often did. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t put some words down in my WIP, or created a poem, or wrote a short story. Perhaps the disease of hypocrisy forced me to realize, on some subconscious level, that I can no longer continue to call myself “writer” if I’m not doing any writing! And, I did take on a trilogy, which assumes that as the writer, I accepted the pledge to not keep my readers waiting years for the third book.  At this time, I have no regrets for typing my user name and password onto the NaNoWriMo website. However, there could well be cursing at a later date.

I spent a couple of hours Saturday morning reading about ways in which other writers write. I find most books and blog posts on craft unhelpful because I’m a pantser, and because of that, everything, even the settings and the characters, and yes, the ending, comes only as I write from beginning to end. However, there were a couple of phrases that made me jump on the train instead of off the tracks, or being hit by the locomotive. “Writers write.” End of story. Literally. I say I write. I line up my five novels and two books of poetry at my book signings, and I talk about each one, and then I don’t know how to answer the question, “When is the last book in the trilogy going to be released?” Uh. Ok. So, I have how it starts, a few scenes that go somewhere in the middle, and perhaps a vague idea of how it might end . . . but I also know that it could all be scrapped once I begin to write the story. How do I answer my current readers, who give such blushing praise for the first book in the trilogy, Of Art and Air, when the second book, written but in need of rewrites and edits is a few months from being released, and the third has yet to be penned?

It would be easier to NOT sign up on the official site. Really, it doesn’t matter if I “win” or not (finish the 50,000 words in 30 days, which is 1, 667 words a day, typed, which is about 5 typed pages, meaning I need to handwrite at least 10 pages a day). What does matter is that I do what I’m called to do. Teaching is one thing. Writing is another. From wherever the train originated, it’s fanned the flames of the tiny fire under my ass that began with the questions from my readers a few weeks ago. I pledge to write at least 50,000 words (though this is only about one-third of the length of my novels) in the month of November. I promise to my readers that they will not have to wait a year or more for the final book in the trilogy. I offer my gratitude, and pray that I have the strength and drive for the hard work I know is to come, to my Muse for not giving up on me when I had nearly done so myself. Here’s to being a writer!

***Charges off with spiral in one hand, pen raised in the other.

Back when I wrote prolifically, I published my novels and books of poetry all in a few years. They’re on my website, as are some short stories. Take a look www.myjoyenterprises.com  Feel free to leave ideas about being a writer or NaNoWriMo in the comments box.

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