I’m guess­ing it was about five years ago. It could be more. I made the deci­sion to par­tic­i­pate in NaNoW­riMo. I was excit­ed. I had a book in mind, which to this day I don’t recall, and I had done some loose out­lin­ing in prepa­ra­tion. I planned for NaNoW­riMo a cou­ple of months in advance, what I would write, where I would write, what my dai­ly word count would be and how I would make up for any lost word counts dur­ing the week on the week­ends. I told my co-work­ers what I had planned to do. I announced my intend­ed par­tic­i­pa­tion to my fam­i­ly because their under­stand­ing is impor­tant, inte­gral, nec­es­sary even in order to accom­plish a suc­cess­ful NaNoW­riMo. If huge chunks of my pre­cious time were to be spent hid­den in my room in bed with crooked aching fin­gers bleed­ing price­less words onto the key­board, I want­ed their bless­ing and sup­port. I was alight with antic­i­pa­tion, sort of like the way one’s mouth waters when they know they’re about to eat some­thing good.

Ah, I know. I over-dra­ma­tize a bit. But if you have ever par­tic­i­pat­ed in a NaNoW­riMo or you intend to this year, then you can prob­a­bly relate to the feel­ing. It’s a fan­tas­tic feel­ing, actu­al­ly. You are pound­ing out your 50,000+ words while thou­sands, mil­lions? of oth­er like mind­ed peo­ple are doing the same thing. Despite the fact that I won’t be par­tic­i­pat­ing this year, I get a lit­tle charge just think­ing about that beau­ti­ful cama­raderie. I rel­ish that feel­ing now as much as I did then, even though my only NaNoW­riMo expe­ri­ence was a whop­ping fail­ure.

I had three prob­lems.

  1. Absolute­ly no fam­i­ly under­stand­ing or sup­port. If, like me, you’re the only per­son in your fam­i­ly who writes, then you’re like­ly aware of how lit­tle oth­er peo­ple know or under­stand about the writ­ing process. Some­times the words flow and some­times they get hung up like a sweater on a nail. To dis­en­tan­gle that pre­cious sweater, you need more time and more effort and patience, and it is dif­fi­cult to employ any of these when some­one in the next room, or in the door­way, or stand­ing over your right shoul­der is ask­ing you to do some­thing and pre­tend­ing they’re just too help­less to do it them­selves. Yes, that too was a bit over-dra­mat­ic. A bit. A tiny tiny bit.
  2. Plot holes. My sto­ry, the one I can’t remem­ber, had so many of them I kept falling in them and break­ing an ankle or a hip. Exag­ger­a­tion? Well, yeah, but I am talk­ing fig­u­ra­tive­ly here. Today I would say that plot holes aren’t real­ly a prob­lem. Today, I would like­ly just write right on through them and take my lumps along the way. This is NaNoW­riMo, not NaPer­fect­NoW­riMo. But then, those plot holes lead to prob­lem #3.
  3. Self doubt. With lit­tle under­stand­ing and lots of plot holes and a whole slew of oth­er bar­ri­ers to my writ­ing, some self man­u­fac­tured and oth­ers not, I even­tu­al­ly gave up. Poo on me. Believe me, I blame no one for that fail­ure. If I had pushed on and failed, well then, that would be accept­able to me. Hon­est attempts are mean­ing­ful and wor­thy. When we give up, we lit­er­al­ly throw away the pos­si­bil­i­ty of suc­cess.

I admire every one of you who decides to give NaNoW­riMo a try. I admire that spunk and dri­ve. One of these days I may give it a try again. It may even be this year, after all this is day 1, yeah? But, next time I decide to give NaNoW­riMo a try, I think I’ll keep it to myself. I’ll just qui­et­ly chip away at those 50,000 words and see what I can come up with in those 30 days. When it’s all over, that’s when I will tell the world… or not.

Good luck my writ­ing com­rades!!!!