The Everywhen

We’re a week into National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), and I’m way behind. I have written in my calendar on November 10th: “16,667 words” because that’s a third of the way through the month and a third of the word count required to “win” Nano. It’s now November 7th and I’ve only written 5000 words.

But you know what? I’m not worried.

I’m a little freaked out that I’m not freaked out.

The last time I did NaNo, I worried about it every day—even the days I had blocked out as non-writing days.

This time, I have this weird feeling that I’ve already won. I don’t mean I’m delusional, I just know that I’m going to win NaNo. It’s a done deal. By November 30th, I’ll have 50,000 words written.

With that knowledge, I’ve taken time to write when I would normally be doing other things, but I’ve also made the decision not to write (for NaNo) at certain times. Like now.

Knowing I’m going to win NaNo has not made me “lazy” about it, I just don’t have the anxiety that I’ve had in the past over completing almost any task or goal.

This is a shift that I’ve noticed in my entire life, not just in my writing life.

For example, right now, my husband and I are actively trying to get out of debt. When I saw that a Vitamix blender I’d love to have cost hundreds of dollars, I realized it wasn’t in my current budget. But I didn’t feel deprived because I know I’ll have it one day. It feels like I already do. It’s just in a closet in my future, waiting for me to go get it.

One of my greatest teachers, Martha Beck, talks about “the everywhen.” That’s how many ancient cultures think of time, rather than time as a linear construct. Albert Einstein has said: “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

I know I’ve taken us off to the land of woo-woo here, but I find this whole concept very helpful. If my NaNo novel is a part of the “everywhen,” any steps I take in the present moment can’t help but lead me to my (future) win. Therefore, I can take steps from a place of peace and joy, rather than anxiety and tension—which is how I felt in 2008 when I was afraid, all November long, that I wasn’t going to finish my 50,000 words.

This time around, I’m working from a place of peace and confidence, and keeping the tension and anxiety on the page, where it belongs.

It’s like I’ve answered the question: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I’d win NaNo, that’s what!

If you knew your writing goal was already achieved in your “everywhen,” how differently might you approach your current project?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a writer, a life coach, a mother, and a physician. She is currently working on her second Nano novel and hoping to connect with other NH wrimo’s at a write-in on November 24th at Rodger’s Memorial Library in Hudson, NH. For more information about the write-in, please click here.

Eeny-meeny-miny-Nano

Welcome to November, known to writers around the world as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is the month when somewhere close to 300,000 over-caffeinated aspiring novelists put their normal lives on the back burner and crank out 50,000 words each in the 30 days between Nov 1st and Nov 30th. It’s an insane and exhilarating experience that’s been happening since 1999 when freelance writer Chris Baty founded the event with some other crazy writer friends.

My first Nanowrimo was in 2009. I completed the challenge, cranking out 50,000 words of crap before midnight on November 30th. I wasn’t disappointed that the event didn’t deliver a product I could work on editing and eventually submit somewhere. That wasn’t the point. For me, the point was about seeing if I could actually write that many words in so few days, AND if I could get over my Type-A self and just write, damn it!

In 2010, though part of me longed to go for a repeat victory, I decided not to participate in Nanowrimo. I wrote a post explaining why I had to bail on Nano that year. In 2011, I avoided the question completely by pretending ignorance of the event.

Now it’s 2012, and I’ve decided to make a run at Nano’s brass ring for a second time. I feel slightly more prepared this time (I have an idea and some characters and I have also just finished reading the section on structure in Larry Brooks’ excellent book, Story Engineering (more on that later). I’m about to brush up on Scrivener and give that a trial run. I am also completely prepared to abandon all my plans and just write ANYTHING to reach my 50,000 words. I’m in a good place.

Before I start to tune out the rest of the world, however … I’m curious to know how many of you are also participating, have participated in the past, or might participate in the future.

Note: Nano starts TODAY – Nov 1st – and it’s NEVER to late to join up and start hammering those keys!

If you’re still unsure, check out all the great resources and pep talks on nanowrimo.org. I also recommend Ali Luke’s post, 4 Reasons You Should do NaNoWriMo … and 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t. 

Do you have Nanowrimo stories to share? How about a pep talk for your fellow writers? Any final words of advice? Give it all up in the comments.  

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Dialogue With The Internal Editor

Lisa Jackson recently wrote about  Shutting Off The Internal Editor For 30 Days by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo, for short).

You’d think NaNo’s built-in time pressure would be a good enough reason for my internal editor to become silent, but the rule-following librarian that lives in my head seems to be able to keep on talking, no matter what. The last time I did NaNo (in 2008), it took me three hours to get my daily word count done on November 1st.

While I did get faster over the month, I don’t have that kind of time these days. Last time I did NaNo, I had no children at home. Now I have a toddler to chase after and when he goes to bed, I’m ready to go, too. And those precious early morning hours I used to take for granted are now filled with cars, trucks, pancakes, and battles over teeth-brushing and socks.

So I’ve figured out another way to quiet my nemesis: I’ve been dialoguing with her.

Here’s how you can do it, too.

Exercise: Dialogue with the Internal Editor (adapted from an exercise in Lifelines, by Christina Baldwin)

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center.
  2. The left-hand column is for your writer self. The right-hand column is for your internal editor.
  3. Write “I want to write without editing” in the left-hand column. In the right-hand column, write “You need to edit as you go.”
  4. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then write your (writer’s self) response to your internal editor’s first statement. Once you’ve done that, see what your internal editor’s response is. Keep going until you get to a turning point.
  5. If you feel stalled, re-write the original two sentences and start over. Or just keep responding “You can’t make me edit as I go” in the left-hand column. Eventually, the response will change.
  6. Keep writing until the dialogue feels complete.
  7. Repeat daily or as often as feels helpful.

The first time I did this exercise, last week, I did a lot of repetition of “You can’t make me.” It was all very juvenile. But then something shifted. I got to a place where the response to “You can’t make me,” was  a list of conditions:

  • Don’t show the first draft to anyone.
  • Don’t throw anything out.
  • Don’t get hurt.

Don’t get hurt? Where did that come from?

It turns out my internal editor, like my inner critic, is all about safety. Unfortunately, she doesn’t understand that safety is not worth my soul—but I do. Once I got to this point in the dialogue, everything changed.

My writer self was able to reassure my internal editor.

The next time I did this exercise, I got to the heart of the dialogue much faster. By November 1st, my internal editor and I should be in sync—at least until December 1st.

How do you deal with your internal editor?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, is currently a full-time mother, part-time life coach. She is a Master Certified Life Coach, trained by Martha Beck, among others. She is passionate about her son, her writing, and using her mind to create a wonderful present moment.  Find her life coaching blog at www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.

Shutting off the internal editor for 30 days

Oops, I did it again! Signed up for National Novel Writing Month, that is. How could I not? It’s addictive knowing I can get 50,000 words down in 30 days.

NaNoWrimo 2012 Participant badge

I’m an official ‘participant,’ and on or before December 1, I plan to be an official ‘winner’ for 2012.

If you have any inkling at all about wanting to get a story out of your head and onto the page, I recommend NaNoWriMo. Even if that dark voice in your head starts whispering things like:

  • You don’t have the time
  • You’re already over worked
  • You haven’t found time all year for your writing so what makes you think now will work?
  • Ha! You think you have a good enough idea for a novel?
  • There’s a long holiday weekend in November and you have to cook, clean, travel, visit, watch football, or be a couch potato.

What I love about participating in NaNoWriMo is shutting up that dark voice – and I bet you can turn off your internal editor, too.

Despicable Me 2 Movie PosterI visualize my ‘dark voice’ as a yard gnome (I have nothing against yard gnomes in the real world), and stomping it with a large boot. But like the googly-eyed talking Twinkies, er, minions in the movie Despicable Me, (or the upcoming Despicable Me 2) my imaginary yard gnome doesn’t shut up, no matter what I try — EXCEPT during November.

In November, there’s some type of force field that separates me from the dark voice in my head when I’m writing fiction. And I think it works for a lot of other writers, too.

This is directly from http://www.nanowrimo.org:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

NaNoWriMo is free and you can be as involved as you want with other Wrimos (the name given to other, um, crazy people who have signed up) in your area or online.

You can try “word wars” where people agree to start writing at a certain time (top of the hour, quarter past, half past, etc.) and for a certain length of time (15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) At the end of that time period, post your total words, and see how you compare to other writers. Competition can really kick those endorphins into high gear.

Honestly, there is just a feeling of freedom knowing that the internal voice has no power and that the words can flow onto the page. Editing can start in December, but for November, how about joining me in getting at least 50,000 words down?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. As Lisa Haselton, she writes fiction, co-blogs about mystery-related writing topics at Pen, Ink, and Crimes, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is a chat moderator at The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

To Lie Fallow

Fallow: adj, 1. (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.

It took me a few different dictionaries to find this particular definition of fallow. The first few definitions I read mentioned fallow as “left unseeded” but didn’t mention the part about “to gain fertility for a crop.” That’s the most important part, to my mind.

There are times in our lives as artists that we put out a lot of content or product. Times when our energy is high and we create and create.

Then there are times when we must lie fallow. Not because we are lazy or uninspired, but because we must “regain fertility” in order to create again.

For the past few months, I’ve been in a very creative place. I’ve written an e-book for blended families that I’ve been thinking about for years, I’ve created and delivered teleclasses and in-person classes, I’ve blogged and journaled and created an outline for a nonfiction book I want to write.

When I was on vacation last week, I fully expected my creative output to continue. My son and I were alone together in a comfortable rented house and I expected to enjoy being outside with him (we were near the beach) and I expected to work on my creative projects when he was sleeping.

But that’s not what happened. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel like doing anything. When my son napped the first day of our vacation, I cleaned the kitchen, then started prepping food for dinner. That’s when I noticed that I didn’t feel like writing.

That never happens!

Rather than berate myself for my lack of motivation, I just observed. I asked myself what I wanted to do.

For a day or so, the answer was, “Watch TV.” I went with it: I saw an episode of The X Factor, which I’d never seen before but totally enjoyed. I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, listening to all these hopeful young people singing their hearts out.

On Wednesday, I didn’t feel like watching TV anymore. I wanted to read. And journal. So I did.

By now it had occurred to me that perhaps I needed a little downtime. The word “fallow” popped into my head and it seemed to describe how I was feeling. I remembered the times I’ve run a marathon: I don’t usually run for a few weeks after I finish. I “lie fallow” for a while before I get itchy to start running again.

The same thing happened with my writing. On the very last day of my fun and relaxed vacation, an idea for a novel popped into my head so vividly that I grabbed my iPod and recorded about 5 minutes worth of material without stopping.

Now I have a story to write when NaNo begins. I can hardly wait!

How do you feel about your fallow times?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, is currently a full-time mother, part-time life coach. She is a Master Certified Life Coach, trained by Martha Beck, among others. She is passionate about her son, her writing, and using her mind to create a wonderful present moment.  Find her life coaching blog at http://www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.

NaNoWriMo 2011 complete, but not done

This is a nice follow-on to Lee’s post yesterday about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I’ve done NaNo several times before, not always completing, like last year, but I have ‘won’ a few, like this year.  National Novel Writing Month 2011 winner banner

One year my goal was the 1,667 words per day for 30 days. I didn’t always achieve the total, but was able to make up for one day’s shortfall the next day, usually.

Another year, I wrote as much as I could when I had a couple free hours, that might have been the year I wrote 25,000 words over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve finished well before the midnight November 30 deadline, and sometimes not that much before the deadline.

A few years ago, I discovered “word wars.” It’s a fun and wonderful way to get some words on the page. It’s an online (like all of NaNo is) competition between 2 or more people. It was as simple as going to the Word War thread and adding a post “I’m going to do a 20 minute sprint at the top of the hour (“:00″). Who’s in?”

Or I could say “:15” or “:30” or “:45” – to show what time I was starting. Since NaNo is international, using the minutes to indicate the hour was all that was necessary.

So at whatever the designated time, writers would set a timer, write until the timer went off, and then post their total words to the thread. And like all of NaNo, it’s all on the honor system. It was a thrill – whether I had the highest word count for the sprint or not. The thrill was knowing there were others out there typing at the same time.

Those word wars that year got me where I needed to be. There are even word wars between states and regions now. It’s a lot of fun all around. I didn’t commit to any word wars this year, but I used the concept to get my novel written.

My novel started out as a humorous type tentatively titled “New Hampshire: Yes, We Still Have Four Seasons”. It turned out to be something I’m currently calling “How to Beat Procrastination with a Very Large (Invisible) Stick and Only a Little Bit Screaming.”

I may have written 50,000+ words on it, but it’s just starting to come together. I have a lot more writing to do and then the editing will begin.

Oh, I have to mention that I didn’t start the novel until about 3 p.m. on Black Friday. I finished by 10 p.m. on Monday. Less than 4 days. I didn’t start on Friday with that intense goal, trust me.

I decided to write in 30-minute increments. I used a timer, started it, typed until the timer went off, then took a break. Sometimes I could do 2 or 3 sprints at one sitting and then get up for a stretch, and sometimes I paused at 15 minutes, but I did all 50,000 words in 30-minute timed increments, except for 2 untimed sessions.

In the past, I’ve used Microsoft Word for my novels, this time I saw that Scrivener was available as a trial for PC, so I downloaded it. They are having a 50% discount for NaNo 2011 winners and I’m going to take advantage of the discount to purchase the software.

I hadn’t been able to use Scrivener before now, since I’m not a Mac person (I hear a lot of gasps from readers), but I’ve seen other writers use it and it’s an incredible way to organize a novel.

Seeing the discount for NaNo winners was a main motivator for me to ‘win’ NaNo this year. I admit it.

My official NaNoWriMo 2011 word count is 50,255. 30-minute writing sprints are soon going to be a part of every day.

NaNo can be addictive and more and more writers are finding they can’t wait for each November to roll around. So, there are now numerous artistic challenges out there for writers.

If you completed NaNo this year, or any past year, what was your strategy?

*****

About Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson writer Lisa Jackson is an independent editor, writer, journalist, and chocolate and iced coffee lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to chat with best-selling authors, non-fiction writers, publishers, and other writing professionals on a weekly basis.

NaNoWriMo 2011 #FAIL (Sort of)

'NaNoWriMo Hoodies Are Heaven' photo (c) 2009, smittenkittenorig - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/On November 1st, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. By November 30th, I hadn’t even come close to the required 50,000 word total, but I don’t consider it a total #FAIL by any means.

I started writing with a flurry and quickly realized I didn’t have the information I needed and making EVERYTHING up willy nilly was driving me nuts. Turns out, I’m not as much of a panster as I thought I was. I tried slogging forward just to get the words on paper, but my stress level was rising for what I thought to be the wrong reasons. I’m too practical to just write without a plan. I needed a purpose (a more concrete purpose than just getting 50,000 words into one document). I hate to waste effort. I hate wasting most things, but, I really REALLY hate wasting my time and that’s what it felt like.

I stopped focusing on the writing and instead did some of the prep work I should have done in October. I pulled out my notes from the workshop I took last year with Mary Carrol Moore called, Your Book Starts Here.(The book by the same title is now available and I highly recommend both the book and the class). I grabbed some Post-It notes and a small piece of foam core to make a W outline. It was helpful because I figured out where the gaps were in the overall timeline and filled them in. I also created some basic background information for my characters.

I FINALLY bought Scrivener. I’ve been toying with the idea for months, and finally made the leap. I had a Scrivener template from Larissa Ione, a romance author I read and follow on Twitter. About a year ago, she offered up the template for anyone who wanted it. I had the foresight to request it and when I downloaded Scrivener, all I had to do was import it. I’ll probably end up tweaking it more towards my needs, but it is a awesome framework on which to build a story.

Those tasks, didn’t take a ton of time a few days at most. So you would think that I would have had PLENTY of time to at least come close to 50,000 words. Ah, yes, but life is what happens when you are busy making other plans no?

Commence Excuse Making.

First off, November is brutal with regards to my kids school schedule. There is Veteran’s Day which this year fell on a Friday so our district scheduled a teacher’s workshop for Thursday giving the kids a 4 day weekend. Long before I remembered NANOWRIMO I had promised my daughter we’d FINALLY paint her room (the project was originally scheduled for what turned out to be the hottest week of last summer).

Then, there is the 5 day weekend that is Thanksgiving break, and oh yeah, there was Project Dumpster. Combing through EVERY room in the house for clutter was a refreshing but time consuming experience.

End Excuses.

I started strong, but lacked the foundation to keep going and I let myself get distracted and once derailed, I didn’t work that hard to get back on track. I now have a solid foundation for my story and am committed to seeing it through. Given the realities of my schedule for the foreseeable future, I have committed to myself to have 50,000 words by mid-January. On it!

NaNo Official Word Count 2,054

Did you sign up? Did you finish?

Re-vision: To See Again

It’s November, National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), when ambitious writers pound out a novel in a notoriously short month – only thirty days, several of which are devoted to the preparation, enjoyment and digestion of Thanksgiving. I’m expecting twenty people for the feast, which is easy: cook a turkey, bake some pies and lay in plenty of wine.It’s feeding the dozen or so who will start arriving on Tuesday and stay until Sunday, and who need breakfast, lunch, dinner and beds, that’s a challenge. Add two birthdays to the mix (and homemade, decorated, cakes), and it becomes clear that there’s no time for drafting anything new. But the chopping, prepping, visiting and general mayhem are quite conducive to the act of rewriting, which is what I’m up to this month.

I’m working on a novel that I researched and drafted between 1995 and 2001.  A young and inexperienced agent represented it briefly, but she lost her job before she could sell it. Frankly, I don’t think anyone could have sold it. Back then, it was unwieldy and shapeless, but I was in love with my own effort and thought others would be, too.

In the intervening ten years, I’ve seen the flaws, and I’ve been episodically reworking this novel, whose word-count has dropped from a whopping 140,000 words to under a hundred thousand. I’ve lost count of the revisions – but never the story, which is a dark tragedy set in Vermont in 1958. And I’ve never given up on it, although I have put it on the shelf for long, dusty, intervals.

I’m a great believer in those dusty intervals, and I try to allow shelf time for everything I send out; I even try to let a blog post sit overnight before launching it into cyberspace. There’s a similarity here to romance, and how the hunky date might not look so handsome the next morning.

It’s misleading to think that there’s some kind of magical alchemy that occurs while words wait overnight, but I’m convinced it’s not the typescript that changes – it’s the writer who returns to a work with a little distance and a different set of eyes. Not only do the grammatical errors and logical lapses glare back in the morning light, but so do the overall structure and the narrative shape – the arc – of the story.

Oh, I know what it’s like to fall in love with your own work, to think that what has flowed onto the page is just perfect – inspired, even. And it may well be. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved. And this is especially true of a large work, one that grows by accretion.

Every time I have revised Elegy for a Girl, it has become a tighter, more gripping story. And now, I’m seeing it again, and adding more torque to the characters, language and plot. Sixteen years into this project, I’ve developed experience and faith in revision – and comfort in knowing I have the current best text to return to, if need be.

This is my second or third revision of this novel this year; I’ve lost count. What’s driving this work is the offer of representation from an agent who has read it as an advocate for the reader. She knows her stuff – and she loves the book.

What I’ve done this time – which maybe will be the last revision – is mapped the book, scene by scene. I’m reintegrating a character who I once edited out, I’m noting the pacing, and fine-tuning the overall rhythm of what happens, when.

Each time I revise this book, I learn something else about craft. In the beginning, I learned about characterization and plot and how to integrate research into a story. Another time, I learned that pruning and cutting improved its development – just as cutting away branches in the orchard promotes better tree growth and more fruit. Now, with an agent waiting for the typescript, I’m learning how to take my writing one step further up the professional ladder.

I’m thankful for learning patience over sixteen years: patience and the value of revision. What about your writing life are you thankful for?

  Deborah Lee Luskin is the author of the award-winning novel, Into The Wilderness, “a fiercely intelligent love story” set in Vermont in 1964. She is a regular Commentator on Vermont Public Radio and teaches for the Vermont Humanities Council. Learn more at her website: www.deborahleeluskin.com

Friday Fun – NANOWRIMO

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, writing-related question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth has arrived. Are you doing the 50,000 word challenge this month? Have you ever done it? Tell us a little bit about what you think of NANOWRIMO.

Julie Hennrikus: I have started, but never finished NANOWRIMO. And I flirt with it every year. It is a lot of pressure, but I also find it a good kick in the pants to get some writing done. Also, the NANOWRIMO community is terrific–very supportive. UPDATE: I signed up. Am going to concentrate on finishing a manuscript I abandoned. Less concerned with word count, more focused on getting back in the groove.

.
Susan Nye: Not a chance. I’ll be up to my eyeballs cooking, blogging about cooking and hanging with family. However, I will take inspiration from NANOWRMO and work on my cookbook.
.

.

.

Deborah Lee Luskin: Are you kidding?! I’m revising a novel I started in 1995! It’s finally starting to read like a book.

 

.

.

Lisa Jackson writerLisa Jackson: This is my 6 or 7th year, not consecutive, and I certainly haven’t won every time I’ve tried, but I do have 2 solid starts to novels from past NaNos. This year I’m working on a humorous novel that features NH. Haven’t written purposely funny before, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m already inspired by seeing the counters of my writing buddies on nanowrimo.org starting to increase. I need to get some words written!

Wendy Thomas: Yes, I’m doing nanowrimo. I have a project that always keeps getting put on the back burner and so I’m using this motivation to get it out. I know its a crazy time of year to do it (holidays, kids, visiting relatives) but I’m one who seems to thrive on a challenge so it’s all okay. This year I’ll be working on a compilation of (non-fiction) short stories based on what we’ve learned from living with a flock of chickens.

Head shot of Lee LaughlinLee Laughlin I completely forgot about Nanowrimo even though last year I promised myself this would be the year.  I signed up on 11/1 after seeing a post Wendy made to Facebook. I signed up knowing I wouldn’t hit the word count, but hoping that the month would shine a spotlight on my fiction.  So far so good 🙂

Despite all, words must go on

As many of you know, we, in the Northeast got hit very hard by the recent freakish October winter storm. Many are still without electricity. Ours went out on Saturday evening and we just got it back late last night.

We are probably the only family in town without a generator or a wood stove (and yes, we are in discussions about this as I write) and things in our house can get pretty cold, pretty quickly.

Because we have kids, some of whom were sick (croup), we ended up at the local Red Cross shelter for a few days. There we had food, warmth, COFFEE, and even showers. Another perk is that we had wi-fi, so even though we were away from home, I was still able to write for my blog, answer some emails, and generally keep up (to a limited degree) on what was going on in the world. (alas, when you are staying in a school, the really fun internet sites like Youtube and Facebook get blocked – much to my kids’ dismay.)

We were at the shelter on Halloween, which, after my kids learned that our town had moved trick or treating out one week, became bearable. Halloween was also the start of nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month.) My son Trevor who had returned to the shelter after his gymnastics night practice waited up with me at the folding tables set up outside the gym where people were sleeping until the stroke of midnight so that I could get in a few words before I went to bed.

In all the confusion, concern, and worry, this was something concrete that I could do.

When life throws you a curve, no matter how dire it seems, there are some things that still need to get done. The kids need to have a schedule and be assured that although things are disrupted, all is well and under control. The animals need to be watered, fed, and kept safe. Older people need to be looked out for. Offers of food, warmth, and transportation are extended to those worse off than you.

And moms who deal with things by writing and assuring themselves that even without electricity, words will still get out, stay up late just to prove that point.

About Wendy Thomas 

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).

We got our power back late last night after 4 days. We are one of the lucky ones.