I have to write like 4000+ words today to catch up. Meanwhile, my story sucks so bad that I have stopped backing it up. I figure if I lose whatever I’ve written since the last backup, it’ll be a relief.


I made it to my goal for the night. As of now, the lunatic brother has disappeared, but he left the dog behind. I’m on the edge of my seat.


Word count as of last night. I’m behind, but I write quickly if terribly, so I hope to catch up today. Goal: add 3000 words by bedtime.

P.S.: This will help.


Day 1: Uninspired, but Doing It

Last night I fell asleep watching Shaun of the Dead without a single thought of daylight savings time or NaNoWriMo. Luckily, I woke up at 6 this morning (which turned out to be 5 — see daylight savings time) and was able to write a few words before everyone else got up. I’m at 426 after an hour of teeth-pulling. I definitely don’t have any sort of NaNoWriMo mojo going on, but let’s assume this won’t go on forever.

Parental Discretion Advised

A couple of days ago, Twitter was buzzing with tweets about banned
books. I read Nathan Bransford’s post about “where is the line between
parental discretion and censorship?
” and I agree with some commenters
that it should be parents who help kids decide what reading material
is appropriate. Removing books from the shelves because someone is
afraid her kid will happen upon a racy book — where racy is defined
by someone who may not have the same values as I do — prevents me from reading that book. Please don’t prevent me from reading stuff.

Parental discretion, when it comes to reading material and life
experiences, is obviously important. But I struggle with how much
sheltering is too much sheltering. For example, a couple of years
back, I was reading one of the Little House books aloud to my kids. At some point, the Ingalls’ dog was swept away by a raging river and presumed dead. I wanted to protect my kids from this devastating loss, so I skipped that part. Imagine my horror when the dog came back. My kids wondered why everyone was so happy to see him, when in their experience, he had never disappeared. I admitted that I’d skipped the dog’s drowning and they asked me not to skip things.

I was similarly concerned when I heard about a sad ending to one of
the Harry Potter books. My husband had been reading the series to my
daughter since she was in kindergarten and I knew she was attached to
the characters. I strongly advised my husband to figure out some way
to avoid reading that book. Distract her with another series. Buy her
a pony. But he read the book. And while my daughter was sad, she
didn’t have nearly the meltdown I’d expected. They talked about the
loss and moved on to the next book.

Now that both my kids are reading — and if I may brag, both have the
reading ability of kids three to five years older than they are — I’m
put in a position to balance reading level with material. That is, my
daughter can read at a ninth-grade level, but she’s certainly not
mature enough, as a 10-year-old, to read books written for high
schoolers. Luckily, since my kids can’t drive, their visits to the
library are supervised. They aren’t in a position to obtain grossly
inappropriate books — yet. But as a teenager, I found ways to get my
hands on that stuff and I’m sure you did, too. What then? A bridge I’m
not looking forward to crossing. I hope to cross it, however, without
the help of book-banning zealots.

Validate Me

One of the appealing aspects of NaNoWriMo is the ability to track progress. The only way I can stay on task is to create a paper trail that proves that I’ve done something other than stare out the window and stuff my face with Kashi bars all week. Uploading my latest chunk of scribbles and seeing my word count go up on the NaNo website is satisfying and validating.

Equally appealing is the public nature of NaNo. My tongue-in-cheek motto — and presumably the motto for about 2/3 of our population — is, “If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.” If I don’t post my word count for the world to see (as if they are interested, but let’s not explore that too deeply), did I really write those words?

Reality Check

Someone said to me, “You aren’t as important as you think you are.” She said it matter-of-factly. I was crushed until I realized she was advising me to ignore my imaginary audience. You know, that group of people who spend their days criticizing your wardrobe, noticing your mistakes, and discussing your terrible writing behind your back?

Everyone has an imaginary audience, but for those of us born with self-consciousness issues or who suffer from delusions of grandeur, the audience causes a lot of unnecessary stress. We make decisions based on what we imagine the audience is saying about us. We spend a little too much time worrying that the audience knows we wore these jeans yesterday. Most importantly, we stifle some of our creativity; we don’t take chances because (we think) the audience is watching our every move.

Ninety percent of the time, though, no one cares that you wore those jeans yesterday. They don’t remember that blog post where you misspelled “grandeur” and inappropriately used a semi-colon. They seriously aren’t meeting after class to discuss your train wreck of a manuscript.

They have their own imaginary audiences to worry about. You’re just not that important to them. Thank god.