Monday is November 15, and that means we will be halfway through National Novel Writing Month. This year I am participating with my 30 fifth graders, another teacher and her 32 sixth graders, assorted sixth graders who did NaNo with me last year, and a parent of a current student. Two teachers at a nearby school caught the NaNo fever from me and have corrupted their classes, too. The noveling madness spreads!
So what does halfway through mean? To me, it means hands that are sore from typing. It means fighting to stay strong enough to keep my inner editor boxed up so I can’t hear him laughing at my paltry noveling. It means encouraging my students, some of whom are falling far behind. Most of all, it means writing.
I have thought of myself as a serious writer now for about four years, and a serious writer writes. I know I need to spend some time thinking about scenes, planning story arcs, and considering character traits, but I also must write. At workshops the teachers repeatedly tell us that real writers make time to write every day, even if it’s just for an hour. An hour a day? That would be heaven.
I teach fifth grade full time. I shop for groceries and cook dinner every night. I grade papers and do lesson plans. Weekends are full of trips to Costco, the cleaners, the gym, and the coffee shop. Then there is the house to clean, the laundry to do, the yard to trim. My husband is an amazing help, but it is neverending if you are a homeowner, a parent, and a teacher.
A little over a year ago, I made a commitment to go to the gym. I’d not been feeling well, but after a clean bill of health from my doctor I decided I needed to stay healthy. I changed my eating habits and started going to the gym six days a week. I lost twenty pounds, and I’ve kept it off. I’m still eating right, and still getting to the gym about four days a week. One little decision about something important to me; that’s all it took.
So if writing is important to me, and it is, why does it take something like NaNoWriMo to actually make me write every day? I enjoy writing much more than an hour in the gym–you’d think I’d be eager to write. People who have read my novels enjoy them and continually ask when the next one will be done, or when they will be published. I have to tell them I am still revising, still polishing, still changing the story to make it better.
I enjoy the process so much, is the end product important? Will I ever truly finish my books? That’s important, too, the finishing. Holding that published tome in your hand, admiring your name on the cover; there’s no feeling like it I’m sure. Someday I will know that feeling.
But for now, I need to get back to my NaNo novel!
How’s yours coming?
On my Kindle: Towers of Midnight by Brandon Sanderson