Monday, November 22, 2010

Three-Quarters of the Way to Not There – A NaNo Experiment in Madness

Tomorrow is November 23rd – exactly three-quarters of the way through November and the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge.

With time running down into the last week of four, I am roughly half-way there to the 50,000 word count.

I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that my NaNo challenge is a complete and utter failure. With at best six writing days before November 30th, including today, I have given up all hope of making the 50,000 words.

This was my only best chance of meeting the challenge. After all, how can you be a stay at home mom with kids in school and NOT find enough time?

I have realized a few things along the way.

First of all, I did not have nearly as much time for writing as I had imagined. Let’s start with the number crunching.

One rambunctious attention needy five year old plus one “leave me alone” seven year equals zero chances of concentration. So let’s take out the weekends and other days the school is closed in November. That’s twelve days lost to writing the NaNo novel.

Add one complete day lost to going for a single job interview. Yep, it really did take pretty much a whole day. Once the kids were off on the bus, showered and spiffed up, and close to a two hour drive each way – because Mother Nature naturally picked that day to wallop us with the first snow of the year and it was a doozy. By the time I got home it was almost time to meet the school bus.

Now let’s tally up the partial days – days for grocery shopping, appointments, and volunteering. Including a visit to the walk-in with my little spotted elf to discover she had hives and is allergic to – yes its true – the liquid chemicals inside a glo-stick (curiosity didn’t kill this little kid-cat, but it sure did make her itchy), that’s another five days where my block of writing time was taken up by other demands.

This gives us eighteen lost days.

Out of 30 days, I really had twelve to write 50,000 words. Twelve days of trying to keep the distractions to a minimum, concentrate on writing, and not let worries about meeting word goals and other things in life steal away my imagination. That’s about 4167 words a day. Ok, that’s harder than the 1667 words per day someone who has the full thirty days to write, but it’s still doable right? After all I AM a stay at home mom still.

And yes, I can hear you over there in the peanut gallery. I’m a stay at home mom for petes sake, how could I possibly NOT have unlimited time for this?

But this is me you’re talking about. Being a stay at home mom is not all watching Judge Judy reruns and eating bonbons, and I have been granted what I am convinced is the messiest family in the history of families. Laundry does not sort, wash, fold, and put itself away, and I’m pretty sure this four body family easily goes through enough laundry to clothe an entire twenty-three kid kindergarten class on a messy day. As hard as I’ve tried, I just can’t get those toilets to clean themselves. And I can’t do like Mickey Mouse and summon a spell to make my broom and mop come alive to clean the floors themselves.

The bulk of my day is normally spent on another failed challenge – having a clean house. Of course, this is an effort that goes largely unnoticed since two hours after the kids get off the bus they have reduced the house to the condition that only a marauding army of crazed baboons could leave it in. It will take a large part of my next day to clean up the mess in addition to the other household chores.

So the household chores have suffered largely from neglect during my NaNo efforts and I unfortunately have to play catch-up every now and then.

And I have utterly failed in the challenge of writing 50,000 words in thirty days – make that twelve days really.

I can’t help but wonder how the people with jobs or school can do it. And, even worse, those who have kids on top of jobs or school and take the NaNo challenge.

While I know there is no chance I can meet the challenge now, it did serve as a good reminder just how easy it is to get behind on something, and once behind how daunting and difficult it can become to catch up.

But it’s not a complete loss. I did get a novel in progress out of it, and one with a decent amount of work done on it. While I’ve abandoned all hope of making the 50,000 words by November 30th, I won’t be abandoning the novel. Taste is relative of course, but it doesn’t seem like a bad story to me. And I might continue to post my word count every now and then. We’ll see.

Perhaps the saying is true, that there just is never enough time. Or maybe my problem is having too much time.


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