26,589 Words and Counting

What the Other Side of NaNoWriMo 2015 Looks Like


I created a meme. #sexyguilttrip

Well, I made it halfway. Actually, a full 1,589 words over the halfway marker, before 11:59 p.m. on November 30th. Life did manage to sneak in again, albeit with significantly less intensity than last year (my attention-sucking fur monster is now almost 2 years old, so there was a big decrease in barking episodes and chewing incidents and general furball craziness).

While I am disappointed that I did not “win” National Novel Writing Month by hitting 50,000 words in time, the most pleasantly surprising aftereffect – one I was hoping might happen but was certainly not expecting would result in this much joy – is how much in love I’ve fallen with my story.

I know… that sounds weird. But I have to think that other authors agree with this description of this feeling. It’s love, plain and simple.

You find yourself voluntarily staying in on Friday night because you want to know what happens, what those blank pages are going to say on Saturday morning.


Seriously… it became a thing. Check my Instagram.

You find yourself thinking like your characters, puzzling over mundane life decisions in the context of “What would So And So say/do/act in this situation?”

You start rooting for the people you’ve created, when you realize you’ve written them into actual, independent-thinking human beings.

You’re both exhilarated and terrified when you tackle certain scenes because you have a fantastically complex and beautiful picture in your head of what is happening and you’re beyond afraid that you will never be able to translate what you’re seeing into words that allow other people to comprehend the fantastic complexity and beauty.

You’re desperate to know how your story ends, because you’ve invested a piece of yourself into the worlds you’ve built and the characters you’ve gotten to know; and even if you’ve outlined the shit out of your plot, you still have the nagging thought in the back of your brain that nothing is certain, and this whole thing might not turn out the way you expect.

You’ve found it: your voice, your stride, your confidence, your groove, the story you were meant to tell.


Possibly my favorite thing I’ve ever made, ever.

So I’m merely extending my NaNo deadline. I’m not ready to leave the world of The Bearers. For those of you who succeeded in hitting 50K, I am in deep and true awe of you. Well done. For those of you in my shoes, the pressure is off (slightly)! If you’re in love with your story, keep going. We’re the people who were brave enough to attempt a novel in a month. One month! One! NaNoWriMo opens up a multitude of doors for people. It’s up to us to choose to walk through them.


Thanks, President Obama.

December also marks a return to some shamefully neglected projects I’d left hanging in lieu of this crazy NaNo venture. With my fabulous friend and editor Kim’s expertise in all things prose, I will be completing a second edit of my memoir of Tanzania, The Red Earth Sings Beneath Our Feet, with the intent to release it in early 2016. More to come on that front! If you’re interested in learning more about the organization that made my experience possible, visit www.crossculturalsolutions.org.

I’m also hoping to release a second poetry collection, called Notes from a Bar Napkin, inspired by (you guessed it) the writing prompt of the same name that I’ve posted from time to time on this blog. There are plenty more where those came from. Sometimes I think I have to be slightly toasted to write poetry at all, let alone something that’s reasonably good enough for somebody to want to read. In any case, it’s a fun project and I’d love to share the fruits of my drinking habit with anyone interested.

So, I wish boatloads of inspiration and creative energy on y’all. Here’s to the writers of the things that people read!

Write on!