The Itsy-Bitsy Spider

Rain has been pounding on my roof all night. And most of yesterday. Today it’s going to be the same. I’m stuck inside my house, longing to stretch my legs and feel sunshine on my face.  

Storm after storm after storm. No chance to catch my breath.

I’m not the only one who’s gone through storms over this holiday season. Each person has their own storms to face. To someone else, my problems would only be annoyances. For me, as each problem piles on top of the next, it becomes mind-numbing.

Incessant rain. Grey, swollen skies that hold the day captive.

My creativity is held captive with the California sunshine. My hands hover over my laptop keyboard yet nothing is typed on my screen. Maybe the query rejections were right. Maybe writing a novel is too hard.

Maybe my story is not important.

My responsibilities come tumbling out like junk out of a woman’s purse. Days fill up with important tasks. People I care about need me. When things break, it takes time and money to fix them.

Cars drive by my house, splashing up water from the gutters.

An email arrives. A short story I wrote last year was shortlisted for a fiction contest.

Silence catches my attention. The rain has stopped.

Maybe I can write a story that is important.

My hands fly over the keyboard. Characters, storylines, wonderful places flood my mind. When my stolen moments pass, the story takes hold in my mind and rests there, waiting for my next writing time.

Out comes the sun and dries up all the rain.

And the itsy-bitsy spider climbs up the spout again.

Midway Thoughts-NaNoWriMo 2019

People, Adult, Woman, Street, Outdoors, City, Dark, War

 

On the fifteenth of November, I had 25,000 words. Half way through the month, halfway to my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000. Yeah! (small victory dance)

How do I feel? Exhausted. At the beginning of November, I reread a favorite book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. In the book, he argues that the minute we commit to a major creative project, Resistance rises up to oppose us.

This week, I faced Resistance in the form of work, illness, and mental exhaustion. For years, I’ve done a decent job balancing my teaching job and my home life. However, this November’s been the toughest one I’ve ever faced. Too much to do with impossible deadlines, resulting in additional hours at work that could have been given to my writing. All I want to do when I drag myself home is collapse in a chair and read my Kindle.

Besides work, my husband’s chronic illness, suddenly after ten years, flares up. Should we change his treatment? What if he has to give up Harley riding, one of the loves of his life? What if I need to take over some of his responsibilities at home? Am I being selfish by writing at my computer when I could be spending time encouraging him? Most of these nights I don’t remember if I fall asleep before hitting the pillow.

This is war, so I’ve fought back by turning off my alarm at 5:15 a.m. and getting up to write before work. Sometimes it’s been hard to type, let alone come up with words. Maybe you think I’m crazy to get up that early, but it has its advantages. Writing still partially in a dream state generates fresh ideas unencumbered by critical thought. Before I start piling up the day’s baggage in my brain, I can find room for my story.

I’ll admit—it’s challenging to write 1700 words a day. My husband helps a lot. We talk about my character’s adventures over a glass of wine, and run through scenarios of what might happen next. (I did start with an outline for this book, but it soon grew too big to fit into it.) Another benefit of committing to NaNoWriMo is that you live in your story every day. Usually it takes me at least a year to complete the rough draft of a novel. Under a 30-day deadline, I get to know my characters well.

How am I doing? It’s not over yet. Every day is another chance to give up. Or to meet Resistance’s challenge. All I can say is that this morning I got up and wrote.

Are you a #NaNoWriMo2019 crazy person? Keep writing. It’s a war out there. Resistance wants to prevent the next best-selling novel from being written. Even if you don’t make your 50,000 word count, there’s got to be a story in it. Soldier on.

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