I wrote my first novel in my early twenties, during NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month for all you non-writers out there. Thirty days of intense typing, fueled by the energy of my youth (and probably some vodka), and ending in 50,000 words.
Back then I had a nine-to-five job as a loan processor. Not exactly the most conducive environment for creativity, but sitting at a computer all day made it easy to add a sentence here or there as something popped into my head, or a whole page during my lunch break. Then when I’d get home I was free to write whenever I felt like it. Piles of laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink? They can wait. Ice cream for dinner? Sounds good. Write until midnight and still get up on time for work? Not a problem.
After meeting my goal at the end of that crazy month, I continued on with the story for another month or so, and then gave up on it. Something about it wasn’t quite working and I didn’t have the drive to unravel it scene by scene to find where it took a wrong turn.
But now I’m (undeniably) older, (hopefully) wiser, and (definitively) more motivated. And I am about 35,000 words into a new novel. One that I think has the bones to make it to completion.
The life experience I’ve had, going from a new head-in-the-clouds college graduate to a married mother of two, not to mention all of the books, articles, and blog posts I’ve read about writing over the years, has given me the tools and confidence I need to fulfill my dreams. The one thing I don’t seem to have enough of now is time.
As I’m writing this, my youngest is napping downstairs (a miracle these days) and my oldest is sitting on the floor next to my chair, playing with seashells and asking me endless questions about dinosaurs (thank you Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).
When I’m not chauffeuring one kid or the other to preschool or back, I’m grocery shopping, picking up toys, sweeping the floors, unloading the dishwasher, picking up toys, refereeing fights, cooking, playing, folding clothes, wiping counters, reading picture books for the thousandth time, or did I mention, picking up toys.
I’ve contemplated getting up before the kids in the morning to get some words on the screen, but that’s not really appealing when they like to wake up at six. I could stay up late but my adorable children tend to wake up in the middle of the night and either cry or slip into my bed, either way guaranteeing I won’t sleep well.
My husband is amazing, always giving me the opportunity to write whenever I want, but by the time he gets home from work, I would rather go to the gym and work off the stress of being a stay-at-home mom or veg out on the couch with him and a glass of wine.
So for now, I stick with mini goals when it comes to my writing. Wrote three sentences? Win. Found a new literary magazine where I can submit short stories? Win. Thought about the next scene for my novel? Win.
I might not be able to write 50,000 words in a month anymore (or a year for that matter), but I’ll get there. One — hold on, I need to make my daughters a snack — word at a time.