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The sea changes from day to day, as do I. Serene one day, restless the next. And ever sleepless. Forgive me for being gone a bit, and don’t forget about me. I am throwing myself into working on my novel (well, one of them) with a passion inspired by NaNoWriMo. Otherwise, I am still broken-toed and gimpy-armed and just managing.

Great Exuma, Out Islands, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “You have to write the book that wants to be written.” — Madeleine L’Engle

Daily gratitudes:
Noticing the details but not getting trapped within them
Coffee shops
A good massage
Talking with Kelsea
My surprise from MKL

NaNoWriMo Day 2 word count: 3657

I wonder if horses feel like this after winning a race?

I’m having a letdown day!  I’m actually quite surprised, but when I got to thinking about it, I realized that I’d been really driving myself towards the November 30 – 50,000 words – NaNoWriMo goal.  And now that I’ve achieved it, after my hyper-happiness and self-congratulatory bath last night, I’m a bit sluggish.  (And I’m cold but that has nothing to do with it.)

I don’t want to leave the house today. I just want to lie around and watch old movies.  Thank the gods there’s no chocolate in the house.  If there were, there soon wouldn’t be.

But I do have to go to work this afternoon, and I do have to go to the grocery store as there is no food in the house.  So leaving the sanctuary is inevitable.  To give you an idea of the strength of my desire to snug myself away here, I actually looked out the window today and wished for deep snow.  Yes, you read right.  ME wishing for snow and cold.  Sheer madness, I tell you.

In examining my feelings this morning, what I really want is a turkey sandwich.  No, just kidding.  What I really want is to keep working on my novel.  I’ve been happy writing it.  So, if you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “OK, so?  Why not just go work on your novel?  If that’s what makes you happy, and what you want to do, go!  Who’s stopping you?  Not me!  So quit yer bitchin’ and go! GO!”  You might say it a little bit nicer than that, but you’d be right.

It’s an odd feeling when you’ve been working for a goal that was communal and not specifically self-imposed, and you have to shift to a goal that IS self-imposed.  In other words, when you have to become more self-driven, self-motivated.  As I am pondering this from the Red Couch this morning, I am realizing that self-motivation for achievements is one of those key elements in my life that many of my dreams have revolved around – and one that sits in the garden of my soul like an untended flower.  This novel, and this realization, may be just what I need to break through what I now see as a barrier that has blocked the flow of my success for most of my life.  I suspect that at its core is laziness and fear.  But I think that’s a therapy session for another day.

When I started out this morning, I was thinking that I was depressed – again.  But as I’ve been “writing it out” here, I realize that I’m not depressed.  I just need a little break.

I need to do what makes me happy and be kind to myself.  Sometimes, after you’ve worked very hard, it’s okay to take a break and watch Virginia Mayo movies for a while.  Soon, I’ll get up and go do things.

Like have a turkey sandwich.


After a grueling six hours and 8,574 words, I won my NaNoWriMo Challenge!  I finished with 50, 668 words (in 29 days, and I took a week off in the middle!)


Of course, the book is far, far from done.  Realistically, I’d say the first draft is half-done.  I’ll need to set my own challenges to help me finish it and not let it just pine away, neglected.

NaNoWriMo winners don’t actually win anything – and so what?

Trust me, the feeling of accomplishing this feat is a reward in itself.

Big, BIG smile!

I think I’m going to make it.  I have 3+ days and 13,000 words left to go.

I’m a little frustrated with the book though.  My main character has taken a turn towards domesticity that I find rather dull.  It’s not at all what I’d expected of her, but I assume it’s an interim step between where she was and where I want her to be. Guess we’ll just have to see.

Someone said to me that every character is somewhat autobiographical, and I suppose that’s true, though I hadn’t thought of it before I started writing.  I had thought I was simply using my imagination and a historical figure, but nope, there’s me in there.  And I can never be sure what turns life is going to throw me either.

I’m not whining.

But I spent 5 hours working on the novel today.  I wrote almost 5,000 words.  I got my main character out of the frying pan and into the fire.  And I’m exhausted.

I left the Starbuck’s where I’d been writing and went to the grocery store, and wandered around in a daze. 

When I was writing, it was if I was both watching the story as an outsider and living my tale from the perspective of each of my characters.  I was in their heads, experiencing their feelings and expressions, feeling with all of their senses.  I emerged drained, noticing that the sky had started to darken.

In a way, it reminds me of when Kelsea was little, and she wanted to play one of the pretend games where she was herself and I was a dozen other people.  It was a little schizophrenic (and I don’t use that term to offend anyone in the mental health community.)

So tonight, I am home, and about to mindlessly watch the 1936 film “San Francisco” with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.  I think seeing people falling into gaping holes in the ground is just about my speed right now.

NaNoWriMo word count: 25,441 (more than halfway there!)

Can I just say a brief WOW to myself (and to you guys, of course)?

Yesterday, my depression was bad.  And it wasn’t so damn great today.  But yesterday, I thought about quitting NaNoWriMo, about not finishing the novel (or at least my 50,000 word month.)  I was ready to throw in the towel.

Today being a little better, I bootstrapped myself back up emotionally.  I went back to Starbucks and wrote for a couple of hours.  Then I went to a new place and wrote for a couple more hours.  The words continue to spill out.  I had a minor tope, but got over it. 

It’s amazing how writing for about four hours only garners about 3,000 words.  I can see how writing a novel is full-time work.  But I’m over the 20,000 word mark now, and have set myself a goal to be over the 30,000 word mark by Monday night, trying to catch up from some days when I didn’t have computer access.  And then I’ll have to really crank to get to the finish – as of Tuesday morning, I’ll have 7 days left.

I’m glad I haven’t abandoned the project.  I’m glad I haven’t let my depression get the better of me this time.  I’m glad I have my main character to escape into and to channel my emotions through.

I’m proud of myself.

I am feeling better than I was this morning.  A bit of a rough patch when 5:00 pm rolled around.  The grocery store, early darkness, cold, silence and mocking Christmas decorations combined to make me a bit veklept.  But I went to the bookstore, my place of refuge, and browsed to my heart’s content until I had to pick up Kelsea.

Amazing to me that Thanksgiving is next week.  Pat and Kelsea may be going away to Lake Powell, which would be cool for both of them.  But this will be the first Thanksgiving that I’ve spent alone since I was a freshman in college.  It will be strange.  At least I can have my champagne, parades and tears (which are my own personal Thanksgiving traditions) in peace.

And I am catching up on NaNoWriMo.  Current word count:  11,399.  Technically, I should be at 20,000 right now, but I hope to get to that 50% landmark on Thursday.  I think I’m going to hit 50,000 words long before I hit the end of the book.  Perhaps it will run to two volumes.

NaNoWriMo word count for today: 2243, for a total word count of 4239.

So, I finished Chapter 1.  Yes, I actually did.  It’s such a strange and wonderful feeling!

I started this whole thing saying, “I’m not a fiction writer.”  And I’m surprising myself.  My characters, several of whom are actual historical people, are talking to me and taking on lives of their own.  It’s as if I’ve opened a door for these people.  As if I’m seeing and feeling and sensing through their eyes and hands and spirits.  My main character is telling the story herself.  I’m just channeling it.  I’m her hollow bone.

I started with a brief outline of an idea that was born on a trip to the islands, noted cryptically in a journal.  The night before NaNoWriMo started, I realized there were some serious logistical flaws in my story.  So things started shifting and changing.  I found more of the things and places I love weaving their way into the tale.  The outline grew and evolved.

Once I started writing, as I say, it started pouring out of me.  It takes me about 3 hours to write 2000 words, including time that I stop to research certain points.  I begin each day with a picture pulled from Google Images that shows where my main character is in the story as I start to write.  It seems to help me keep focused.  So far, I haven’t reread what I’ve written in its entirety.  I’ve read pieces, and when I read those pieces, it doesn’t feel like my writing, even though I know it is.  It’s a little disjointed.  Hmm, maybe it’s even bad. 

But it’s all I want to think of.  I play with the characters in my head, with the “what ifs..”.  I let it flow.  And I resent other things, like paying work, or doing dishes or laundry, interfering with the world inside my head.

And look!  I’ve finished the first chapter of a novel!!

I achieved – and surpassed – my word count goal for today.  The goal was 1667, and my word count was (drumroll, please….) 1996!  I consider this a good omen, since it is also Kelsea’s birth year.

I’m pleased with half-finished first chapter.  It seems to be flowing. It’s a matter of putting my head in the right (write, get it?) space.  I tried writing with music but it didn’t work for me.  What did work is writing with my old standby, Turner Classic Movies, on in the background.  And maybe having cramps helped my writing.  Not.

But cramps do explain my moodiness and depression of the last few days.  I tell you, this whole perimenopause thing just keeps me guessing.  I didn’t even think this was an option.  That’s the fun of this transitional womanly time.  Woo hoo.

Anyway, I’m very pleased with the writing today.  I’ll try to keep myself honest by reporting progress here.

I’m not a fiction writer.  As you may be able to tell from this blog, the stuff I write is non-fiction.  I like to write travel tales, memoir, poetry, essays.  I think if I have to pigeonhole myself into a category, I’d call myself an essayist.  It covers a lot of ground. 

I had heard about NaNoWriMo – which, if you don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month – a few years ago from Kelsea’s school.  I think there was a “junior” version which the TAG (Talented and Gifted) kids were encouraged to do.  Kelsea’s been at work on her own novel for a couple of years now, so the program wasn’t quite for her.  She’s happy with her progress, and seems to know what she’s doing.

But due to some flicker of madness that crossed my mind a few days ago, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  In NaNoWriMo, you make a committment to yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Over 165,000 people participated last year.  You start on November 1, crank it out, and upload it by November 30 to “win”.  Winning really means that you DID IT!  A lot of people say they are working on a novel – and say it for years and years – but few ever actually complete one.  This is about quantity, not quality.  The editing comes later. 

Since I don’t write fiction, this project feels like a real challenge – but I felt like challenging myself.  I’ve now got 2 ideas, both in very abridged outline format, and I have 5 days to choose one, think about my characters, and sharpen my pencils. 

It seems (now) very doable to write 1700 words a day.  We’ll see how it feels when I’m a week into it and floundering.  The NaNoWriMo people give you a few tips:

“Tell everyone what you are about to do. The more people who know what you’re up to this November, the less likely you are to slink away from victory in a rare moment of exhaustion or doubt. Friends, neighbors, family, pets, coworkers, civil servants, and strangers—tell ’em all!”  —  OK, via this blog, I’ve just told a whole bunch of people what I’m doing.

“Bargain with those around you. Suggest to your housemates that if they take care of chores during November, you’ll cover the following two months. Make sure you’re not signed up for soccer game snack-duty, volunteering in the neighborhood—any helpful or productive task that isn’t writing your novel—until November is past.”  —  This one?  I live alone.  No bargaining possible.  And I’m not missing Kelsea’s basketball games.  We’ll just have to make it work.

“Incentivize success! To reach 50,000 words in November, treats work well but the threat of awful tasks works better. Tell your neighbors that if you don’t reach your word-count goal, you’ll mow their lawns for a month. Promise your boss that you’ll work one Saturday for every thousand words you fall short of the 50,000-word mark. (For my part, I’ve already pledged to buy Chris Baty a coffee for every day that I don’t reach 1,667 words.)”  —  If you have any suggestions for negative incentives, let me know.

“Put away the time-wasters. On November’s eve, unplug the cable box and ask your roommate to hide the cord. Give World of Warcraft to your friend for the month. Lock your remote control in a safe and give away the key. You’ll thank yourself come November 30!”   —  The cable box isn’t going anywhere.  But I have committed to not going online each day until I have completed my 1700 words, since I know I’m most productive in the mornings.

More details about all things NaNoWriMo can be found at

There are groups all over the place in the Boulder/Denver area – people who are planning to get together to write their hearts out in one another’s presence.  I don’t think that will be me, but I will use this as an opportunity to find new places to write – coffeeshops, libraries, who knows?  I’ll find places and it will be fun!

Since I got my first rejection email the other day (which is actually a yippee – other rejections have just been silence), I feel like I need something to give me some confidence with my writing – this should help.

Wish me luck!

January 2021


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