October 30, 2015

A Novel Idea

I'm happy to report that things have improved since my last post. The blender is still kicking... our finances got put back in order, and although my camera still needs to be repaired, I think it might be a sign that I need to focus more on writing and less on taking photos. 

A decade ago (Really? Ten whole years ago?!) I stopped whatever I was doing at the time and gave myself permission to complete a three month photography course in South Africa. I learned a lot, both about photography and myself, and it gave me three busy yet full months to focus on visual creativity. In the past, I had always taken photos for an organization and had to work around their parameters. During the photography course, I was able to take photos for myself — a welcome change. 

I also discovered that I could never be a full-time photographer. I realized I needed to write as well, no matter what I ended up doing. As much as the photography projects filled me up creatively... something was still missing. 

I needed to write. I still do. 

When we moved south a few years ago, I was able to nab mostly freelance photography jobs. I also acquired a number of proofreading jobs, of which I am more than competent, but I still prefer to write rather than edit.

For whatever reason, the few writing jobs I pursued never came to fruition. Then the Peanut came along and I barely seemed to have time to breathe, let alone write. 

I still feel like that some days, but as he gains his own little independence, I find a few quiet moments here and there during the day to myself. 

Writers write... so they say, and it seems I haven't been doing enough of it lately. I have a dormant book about my travels to Ukraine on my laptop at the moment. So much of it is done — yet I'm not happy about the ending. Something is still missing and I feel like I need to return to the country to get the book done. 

For a while, it seemed like multiple obstacles blocked my path. The year I had a trip planned, I didn't feel peace about going. It wasn't the right time, I told myself, and instead I spent the summer in Latvia and Scotland. Then, my brother got sick and I cancelled my trip to Ukraine two summers later. Then a war erupted there... and then I had the Peanut. (And while I am all for traveling with babies, heading over to Ukraine soon after the Peanut was born probably wouldn't have been the wisest choice.) Soon after, my former boss and editor died. He was one of the few people championing my writing at the time, and even though he told me candidly, after reading a few chapters, what needed work, I felt like I had someone in the ring with me. 

I will still finish the book. But in the meantime, I need to let go of the details of it that I keep getting bogged down in, and I need to write something fresh and fun and maybe just for me. So I'm signing up for NaNoWriMo.

During the month of November, I'm going to write a 50,000 word novel. The last time I wrote anything of fiction, I was in high school. The last time I made such a rash decision, I was in college. I decided to ride in a 150 mile MS Bike-A-Thon from Texas to Oklahoma only two days before the event. I spent the day before asking everyone in the cafeteria for $1 so I could come up with the entrance fee. I spent the entire ride wishing I had better biker shorts. And I spent the week after, recovering. 

This novel might be a masterpiece. It might be awful. But, like that bike ride, I'm going to do it, regardless. Because sometimes, we all need a proverbial kick in the pants to remind ourselves of what we're capable of. I know I'm perfectly capable of finishing and eventually publishing that book about Ukraine. 

But first, I have a novel to start on November 1st. 


  1. Love the idea of writing a novel. I've given up a day at work and now have a Friday to myself. I have the very tiniest seed of an idea... Hmmmmm x x c

    1. You should totally do it. I'm pretty sure writing is in your blood, of course.