Wait! Did you see that?
That thing that streaked by faster than my dog running toward the sound of a banana being peeled.
Yeah, that was November. Did you miss it too?
If you’re a writer/author, you probably empathize given the craziness that is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo (if you chose to participate).
If you’re not a writer but you’re in the U.S., then the last week or two of the month was probably a blur for you too, with preparing to stuff your face and then actually stuffing your face—and giving thanks, of course.
So now that the month is over and I’m back to blogging (only to prepare for another break in a couple of months…more on that in a future blog post), I thought it was a good time to take a look back at what happened in the month of Thanksgiving.
This is the insane time of year when writers/authors endeavor to pen the first exceptionally shitty draft of a 50,000 word novel, which is about 200 pages in book form. This was my second year of the craziness, and I’m happy to report that I “succeeded.” Meaning that I met and slightly exceeded the 50k-word goal. It helped that I took the last ten days of the month off from my day job and wrote for five to six hours every day. I will definitely be doing that again next year (coworkers, consider yourselves forewarned).
This second novel, which I talk more about here, isn’t finished—I still have another 15-20k words left to write until I hit the glorious end, but I’m very happy with where I left it at the end of November. I wrote more slowly than last year, but also more deliberately to (hopefully) save myself some time and agony editing on the back-end.
I also secured the help of a generous woman who experienced something like my main character when she was in high school. She’s agreed to let me interview her about her experience so I can bring a sense of realism and truth to my main character and novel overall. A huge thank you to her!
And in other NaNoWriMo news, my daughter joined me this year, finishing out the month at almost 11,000 words. Yay for my Sweetpea!! And as writers are prone to do, we wrote together twice…and then spent the rest of the month in solitary confinement in front of our computers.
I’m so proud of her, especially considering the times she chose writing over playing Minecraft or watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft…okay, maybe that was after we told her “NO MORE MINECRAFT!” But she could have done something other than write. I’m still proud.
I also celebrated the holiday with my husband, daughter and dad, and took a 24-hour hiatus from writing, which I desperately needed at that point. We had a wonderful meal, followed by a restful nap and stimulating conversation.
But the month was not without its share of tragedy. On November 12th, my cousin John committed suicide.
He lived in Arkansas, and was an outdoorsman to the depths of his curly auburn hair and freckled skin. He was the most welcoming, effusive person I’ve ever known.
In our adult lives, we didn’t see each other often, especially since there was a whole state between us. But what I remember about him the most is the way he’d wrap his lanky arms around me and hug me every time I saw him.
He sent me a Facebook message this past September. He was trying to get in touch with my brother to arrange a time for my brother and dad to visit him in January to do some duck hunting. I’ve read it many times in the weeks since, like I honestly thought I’d pick up some subliminal cry for help. And even if I did (I didn’t), what good would that do him, or his family, now?
I don’t know why he did what he did. I do know that things have changed since I talked about my feelings on suicide in a post earlier this year, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.
In that post, I said that since no one I knew had committed suicide, I didn’t know how I’d react or feel about it.
Now I know.
But what hasn’t changed is that I have no idea how much suffering John had to have gone through to take his own life, to leave his two young children fatherless, to believe that suicide was his only option to escape the torturous pain he must have felt. And because of that, it’s not my place to judge what he did or didn’t do.
My aunt and uncle are having a “celebration of life” ceremony for him in January, and I will be there. They’ll be spreading his ashes around one of his favorite hunting spots. It’s comforting to know that he’ll end up in a place that made him happy.
I spent most of November with my head in a fictional world. And while I wasn’t watching, life went on without me.
Except for one.