Sunday, December 1, 2013
NaNoWriMo: I did it!
I won! I won! It's amazing what one can do when they put their mind to it! I did it. I 'won' NaNoWriMo. I didn't really win anything, beyond the satisfaction of completing the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I successfully wrote more than 50,000 words in November. 54,280 to be exact. Go me! That equates to about 9 chapters. They are not pretty. I'm sure there is repetition. There are spelling and grammatical errors. The thoughts are not always complete or developed. It probably seems quite discombobulated. Organization and order was not the goal. In fact, I've not even read what I've written yet!
The goal was to write. To write as much as I could in 30 days. My goal was not to have a polished first draft. My goal was to get the words out of my head and my heart and on to paper. This has been 9 years in coming. I have not written because time has been elusive. NaNo afforded me a short term goal and a structure in which to focus my intention. It offered the support of the writing community. I only had to accept the challenge for 30 days. Looking at it that way was far less daunting than looking at 'writing a book'. I wanted to write every day but that did not happen. I probably wrote 2/3 of the days at best. When I did write, I wrote for hours. When I got in the groove, my fingers couldn't type fast enough! Having the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days was motivating.
The material came relatively easy as it's not a fictitious novel but more of memoir and self-help guide. It was quite an experience on many levels. I toyed around with the structure of the writing process. I began just writing. Then, I realized I needed some sort of organization so I created separate documents for each chapter. I have two copies in two different places. This made it easier to organize my content but also easier to go back to find topics I wanted to add or expand on in a particular chapter as I thought of other information I wanted to include. This did slow down the process, but my Virgo Type-A personality was struggling with writing without editing as it was! Which brings me to another challenge. Leaving the editing to another time! That was a lot harder than I anticipated. Editing takes a tremendous amount of time. I need to leave it and go back to it with fresh eyes. Still, seeing the red lines indicating spelling errors and knowing there are incomplete thoughts are hard to ignore. I found a way to add **** to indicate where I need to go back and add information or complete a thought or topic. That eased my mind.
From a cathartic and deeply personal and purposeful perspective, this was the beginning of the realization of a dream. The realization of one of the very reasons I walk this earth. This book needs to be written. I've known it for years. Not just for me, but for others like me. This is the book I searched for high and low after Meggie died. It's the book I wish my family and friends had read. It's the book those who work with bereaved families need to read to better understand their world and their experience. To my knowledge, there is no other book like it out there.
So yes, it was emotional at times to write, but that was a good thing. It's not like I haven't written or spoken about many of the stories I share in this book before. The challenge is in finding the balance between glimpses into my experience and that of other bereaved parents and what we know about grieving from a psychological and physiological perspective. This book challenges some conventionally held beliefs. There is some research that needs to be done and references and resources to be developed. It's really a part 1 of a 2 part journey. There may actually be 2 books instead of one.
The book is not done. There is still much work to be done. Yet I am a hell of a lot closer than I was 30 days ago. It may be a bit slower now, but I still intend to write at least weekly for several hours. In order to be able to write those 50,000 words, I needed to let other things in my life slide. I had to make writing a priority. While it was a wonderful experience to be able to do so, and November happens to be an 'off' month for soccer for my boys, however the reality of life, work, being a soccer mom, the mundane and everyday tasks that need to be done, plus the holiday season, will make it challenging at best to carve out a few hours to write every week this month, let alone every day. There are also blog posts like this one I would like to catch up on. Then, there is that half-marathon in 38 days I am training for! It is also December. The most difficult month of the year for me. Meggie's angel day is in 18 days. Every day closer to the 18th, I feel a bit more of the pain of her loss. I function a little bit less every day. It happens every year.
What I do know is this: I can write this book. I will finish it. My goal is to have a self-edited first draft by the end of February. I will likely self-publish, as I don't want to lose time trying to get an agent to find a publishing house that will take on such a niche market book. I want this book available by the end next October. In time for Meggie's 10th 'angelversary'. She has so much to teach and I can think of no better way to honor her than to share her story and mine in the hopes that it helps even just one person heal and find their way out of the darkness. I'm not worried about marketing it. I can do that. I trust it will find it's way into the hands of those who need it.
Lucky for me, I have one feisty and beautiful spirit child for inspiration. I can almost hear that small, but loud voice saying, "Do it mommy, do it. Again, again!" Yes Meggie-moo. Mommy will write again. And again, and again and again. Until it's 'just right'. I promise. For you. For all your friends in the next place and for their parents and family and friends still here on earth missing them. I will write it for all of you. I have to. Therefore, I shall.
And so it will be.