Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo GUEST POST: The terrible twos

All, I'm very pleased to bring you a guest post today from my client Jessica Brockmole, who is a NaNoWriMo veteran and one of the best "NaNo cheerleaders" I know. Her debut novel LETTERS FROM SKYE will be published by Ballantine Books in summer 2013. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jabrockmole

I’m not only a writer, I’m also a mommy. On the NaNo forums, I’m “Past_Midnight”, as this is prime writing time. After everyone has been tucked in and re-tucked in and brought a drink of water and tucked in yet again and calmed down after a nightmare and then, naturally, re-tucked in, then I can get a bit of writing done.

Just like writing a novel, parenthood has its challenges and pitfalls, as well as its delights. There’s the initial falling in love, whether with a brand new baby or a brand new story idea. And infants really aren’t that hard to take care of (sleepless nights aside). You just watch and cheer them on as they grow and change on their own. The first year of life, like the first week of NaNoWriMo, is full of excitement as you wait to see what happens next.

Then come the Terrible Twos. And this is where the challenges really begin. Like a stubborn toddler, novels can dig in their heels in Week Two and Three, and refuse to budge. No amount of coaxing, bribing or, yes, threatening can convince the story to move forward. You begin to wonder (as I do all the time), whether you can do this, whether you’re really the best person for this job.

And then you wake up one morning and realize that, while you were mired in self-doubt, your little one was busy growing up. Whether child or novel, they all do move forward eventually. It’s hard to look at a group of wet-nosed, marginally potty-trained toddlers and imagine them as fully-functioning members of adult society. It’s also hard to look at 20,000 assorted words on the page and imagine them as the beginnings of a rollicking good tale.

You give everyone a good beginning, you keep at it even on days where you’d rather hide in the back of a closet with a bottle of whisky or a handful of Pixy Stix, and one day you realize that everything is working out. That character briefly mentioned in Chapter One suddenly becomes vitally important in Chapter Six. That child who never knew how to do more than draw an elaborate circle suddenly discovers she can write her own name. Everything falls into place.

So take heart! The Terrible Twos are over (or soon to be, I promise!). Although there will always be challenges ahead, things are going to get easier. Your little novel is growing up and showing you that it has a mind of its own.  So just relax and see what your baby can do. And cross your fingers that it’s potty trained.

- Jessica, who gets through both NaNo and the Terrible Twos with patience, sleeplessness, and a lot of whisky


Adele Carsson said...

This post really hit home. I love the way Jessica tied the early years to NaNo - so apt a comparison!

Jessica Brockmole said...

Thanks, Adele! With both toddlers and books, I have to keep reminding myself, it will get better.

Jenny H said...

Oh my god, I love this post. I just got off my swing shift gig: lying on the floor of my two-year-old's bedroom while he takes two hours to fall asleep. Now I'm supposed to write my Nano words and I want to die. Truly, this post gives me hope on both fronts.