I decided, about a week after the start date, that I would participate in National Novel Writing Month. Why not give it a short, I foolishly thought. 50,000 words, I could do that, easily, again, foolish thinking.
My quest to write a novel in the month was met with trips to and from school four times a day for my three kids. Meals and laundry and illness. Meetings and life and mourning. And dressy dinners.
The people I live with are not exactly giving of time. They are all demanding and want pieces of me like that sweet potato pie my husband made for Thanksgiving. It doesn't help that we live in a loft-like setting with my office a stones throw from the TV room and a footstep from my daughters' office. I listened to them fighting and cajoling, my husband fussing at my son to study, and the drone of the TV while I tried to get into my characters.
I went to the library and the coffeeshops to find writing time, my red zip drive filling up with words. Story lines and plot lines and characters came to life for me. Then something happened.
Taking a shower one morning, an entire series of picture books came to me. I raced out so fast, the water dripping down my back from my still wet dread locs. Throwing on some pajamas, I double skipped down to my office, grabbed my laptop, sprinted upstairs, baracaded myself in my room and tap-tap-tapped Miss Kambridge Johnson into life!
The story is uplifting and inspiring. I found an illustrator who is working on drawings for this pink and brown polka-dot sock wearing little dynamo. Her sister sits her with me as I imagine her bespeckeled self writing a story, her name is Karrington. The third draft is with my favorite independent bookseller's children's book buyer for her edits. I have a meeting with a printer in two weeks.
What did I learn? I am a storyteller, my blog and poetry and book reviews are always telling a story. It is funny, I have been doing this all my life. It was what I did in my marketing job and as an adjunct professor. Whether narrative essay or short story or Kambridge, it is all storytelling and all what I do in this craft. I also learned that it is foolish to think you can write a good story in one month!
A novel is about 100-150,000 words so participating in National Novel Writing Month is actually a first draft. I also learned that this organization primarily uses November and this promotion to solicit donations for their non-profit. Not a bad thing, but every other email was about a write-in that was really a donation stop. I went to a couple but they didn't notice the black girl in the corner typing away.
November came to an end and I did not reach 50,000 words. I did gain a few more articles written, a new character and series developed, the shaping of a literary novel, and a few moments at my laptop. I also learned that this craft is not something to be rushed through, not if you want to do anything worthwhile. I know I am not an urban, street lit writer so I know that could limit me to some commercial publishers. Writing is a business after all. I also learned that there is the right audience for me and the publisher will come.
So as this ends, December 1st greeted me with the warm knowledge of my baby girl's sixth birthday and the joy of a children's book waiting for the next step. And that spells success for me, even with all my musings, storytelling, and interruptions!