I’ve had three, so that title doesn’t lie. I wouldn’t be writing this post if my then seventeen-year-old eldest hadn’t said the immortal lines, “Hey Mom, there’s this writing competition called National Novel Writing Month. You should look into it.”
She doesn’t recall this conversation, but I will never forget it; in late summer of 2006, my daughter brought NaNoWriMo to my attention and nothing was ever the same. I was forty, we were living in Yorkshire, England. She would leave home the next year for university, but unknown at that specific moment was that all of us would be coming with her. By the end of November, 100K was written on my first real attempt at fiction. Also by then, we had decided to move back to America.
2006 was a funny year for me; hitting forty, NaNo, choosing to go back to California, realizing my lovely oldest child knew me better than I knew myself. Yes, we homeschooled, so perhaps she saw me more than most teens hang out with their mums. I was always scribbling something, usually journal entries, letters, or a non-fictional account of the year after my brother died. But that was in 1997; she was just nine, and was still in British schools. I spent a lot of time on that tome, but maybe it stuck with her. Then, as she went from a child to a teen, her eyes noted that I never quit writing.
Yet there was no focus, no goal, until NaNo.
Fortunately no one else died in those nine years, certainly not my dream of becoming a writer. But I was busy teaching, all but the math and science; my husband took those subjects. I was living a dream of sorts, trekking around North Yorkshire and other spots in the United Kingdom, raising three kids, but in the back of my mind, ideas percolated. When she mentioned NaNo, I was stunned that she might think of me in that regard, then I was blown away at what noveling offered my soul. I didn’t need to write to expunge grief (although that beloved sibling pops up when I least expect him); I needed to write to fulfill who I was beyond someone’s wife and mum. Six years and forty-two manuscripts later, I’m still on that path.
That’s why NaNoWriMo is so important. It unlocked the creative scribbler in me, giving me more to do than shop and watch daytime TV after my kids started fleeing the nest. It freed within my heart so many past niggles, liberated a plethora of plots, introduced me to so many wonderful folks! It allowed me to delve into how many other lives, gave me another reason to love autumn. It led directly to this website, blog, these actual words. And so many more.
All because a teenager knew what she was talking about. Go figure! (Ha ha ha…)