questioning my sanity

Last year as soon as Halloween was through I hunkered down in front of my computer and did the unthinkable.  The unbelievable.  The completely unreasonable.

I wrote a novel from start to finish in the month of November.  Actually I finished one day early and that one day early… it was the only thing that left me clinging to a shred of sanity.  At the very end of the month I was raw and ragged.  I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t thinking.  I wasn’t anything.

I parented and I wrote.

That was it.

I remember the last night I wrote so clearly.  It was November 29th and I was desperately trying to reach both the end of my tale and the 50,000 word mark.  Mike had surprised me by becoming intensely supportive of my progress.  When I told him I was going to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge he wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but when he saw that I was serious about it he was such a great support system. I wouldn’t have made it through without him.

On that last night though… that last night when I was almost ready to throw in the towel he called my from work at 6 PM.  I was unshowered sitting in my bed desperately trying to write.  K was playing in the other room but she would come in every few minutes asking for this or that, would I play with her, could she watch tv, could she go to the moon with Steve.  I knew I wasn’t being a very good mom at that moment but I needed to get this done for me, a few hours of quite play time by herself wasn’t going to kill anyone.  When I answered his call I realized the time and was immediately irritated that he was still at work.  Harsh words were nanoseconds from passing my lips when he said “If you’re still working on your book I can pick up some Chinese take-out on my way home”.

I almost cried at the thought of my favorite take-out dishes coming to a table near me.  I thanked him profusely, probably mumbled further insanity and then hung up.

When I set down my phone something happened…  I think I had a few thousand words to go when I told myself “Let’s finish this”.  I typed furiously until I heard Mike’s car pull up in front of the house.  I stopped where I was, only a few hundred words from finishing and set the table.  I ate quickly, frazzled and stressed but happy.  I had 28 hours to finish a few hundred words.  I knew it could be done.  I thanked him for dinner, got K ready for bed, tucked her in and then went back to my computer for more.

I finished the book, simply titled Fiction, before 10 pm that night.  As I wrote the last few sentences (the cheesiest sentences in the book) I was too tired to be thrilled.  Before I even told Mike I was finished I backed the book up and uploaded the last words to the NaNoWriMo website so I (and my 4 writing buddies scattered around the world) could see that I was done.

When I was content that my book was finished and securely stored I staggered from my room, told Mike I was done and then took a hot shower.  When I was clean and dry I put on something comfy and sat down at the table with my husband.  I may have told him I didn’t ever want to do it again.  I may have told him I was insane.  I may have told him my brain was falling out…

Then he took my computer, went up on to the NaNoWriMo site and printed out my winner certificate, then he printed out my book, all 142 pages of it.  I went to bed.

When he came home the next day to a slightly saner wife and a much happier child he had a something in his arms.  My book in all it’s glory, thousands of typos and all, spiral bound with a plastic cover and on page 1 was my winner’s certificate.

It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

It’s been nearly 11 months since I finished that novel.  I have edited 3 chapters for typos and that’s it…  The reasonable thing for me to do would be to sit down with my book and see what I can make of it.

I have seldom been called a reasonable woman.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year.  I haven’t decided if I’ll fly by the seat of my pants again or take these next few weeks to come up with a strategy, a story in my head…  I don’t know how I’m going to do it all over again, but I know that I’m going to, and that I won’t be alone.  Several people in the Portland twitter community have already stepped up to say they’re going to do this crazy thing as well: @verso, @kmcdade, @lawduck, @metroknow, @oleoptene best of luck to you… I won’t be shocked if your tweets make progressively less sense through out the month of November…  Please don’t be surprise if I start tweeting nothing but obscenities.

Join Us?

*looks like I wasn’t the first to put up a NaNoWriMo post… go see what MetroKnow had to say about it on OurPDX.

9 thoughts on “questioning my sanity

  1. loveyh says:

    Scared. So scared.

    I keep dithering–do I really need ANOTHER project? Mr. Engineer said Hell to the no. He wants me to finish the manuscript in November so he can retire.

    Methinks he is delusional. But I’m here, cheering you on!

  2. Gary Walter says:

    I have never heard of this thing until today. I started seeing some tweets from someone I’ve not been following. Being away from a PC for the past 24 hrs has not been easy, there’s only so much one can do on a 3×3 screened smartphone named after a wild fruit growing on canes in Oregon forests and fields.

    So, after putting DD to sleep, I pulled out the PC and fired it up. A couple of pulls on the cord and a shot or two of starter fluid, and she fired up nicely at 18Mbps, until she warmed up and is now sailing at 48Mbps.

    Your experience, doesn’t make me want to do this. Most of my research papers, take home tests, and reports have been written at 3-7am the morning they were due. I know how hard 2000 words are at that time frame, I can’t imagine 50k!!

    Why my profs ever gave me A s, I’ll never understand. That could not have been my best work, last minute and all. I wonder what I could churn out if I wrote leisurely, and with sleep and sustainence?

    I would like to do this, I figure I will write a book someday. I like the novel/parable method, like Lencioni’s management series.

    A paramedic mentor friend of mine wrote a novel about 20 years ago. I felt like I was reading the story of my life. It wasn’t good, but it was good for me. I got my own autographed copy at Powell’s, used.

    He gave me tips on how to write, it only frustrated me more.

    I already have great regard for you Cami, but knowing you did this last year, you just scored more points in my book!

  3. melissa lion says:

    I’ve done nanowrimo two times and I wrote half-novels each time. I think it’s motherfucking hard and such a necessary thing. I’m so glad it goes on year after year, and I’m thrilled that some of my friends are doing it.

    You’re inspiring me. Maybe I have another book in me, despite telling everyone I don’t.

  4. Jo Beaufoix says:

    God Cami I am still thinking about it. I’ve edited the first 4 chapters of mine and really want to finish it, but I’m not sure I have the time to do it again this year. I think Holl’s doing it though. Ahhhhhh.

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