NaNoWriMo Progress

I’ve got 7,200 words and no plot going on my NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) novel. To win I need to write 50,000 words by the last day of November.

In 2009, when I won NaNoWriMo (yes, that’s right, WON!), I wrote a young adult novel, but this one I classified as literary fiction. Yes, LITERARY fiction. Not, crappy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fiction.

Oh, wait, that is what I’m writing. I have no idea what is going to happen next. Let’s say a song about diamonds comes on the radio as I’m writing, I put a diamond in that scene.

On Sunday morning, I read a New York Times article about a drunk roller, a pickpocket who slices into a drunken and passed-out subway rider’s pocket with a straight edge razor. So I added a scene with a drunk roller.

My protagonist is a crazy, overworked mother of three, a writer, teacher and New Yorker with a benevolently neglectful husband and an active fantasy life. A stretch for me? Not really. As they say, Write what you know!

I wish I had time to write thousands of more words today. After all, it’s quantity, not quality that counts with NaNoWriMo, but I have to get to work. Two of my three children are home sick with a flu today.

Perhaps by tending to my real life, I will find some direction and plot points to share with my protagonist. And, in turn, by writing my novel, I will create a cycle of adventure and creativity in my real life. (This fits with my Rule Number 2: Escape through reading literary fiction.)

Rule #2 Escape Through Literature

I hope my kids always think of me as someone who loves to read. I think of my parents as book lovers.

When I remember my mother from my childhood, I remember her head bowed to a book, especially late into the night. My mother- in-law was like that too; she always had a book close at hand.

I think reading helped my mother and mother-in-law cope with their respective tasks and stresses of each raising five children. And it wasn’t nonfiction, how-to books that they read. No, they found their answers in literary fiction. They read heavy hitters like EL Doctorow, John Fowles, Doris Lessing, and Margaret Atwood.

Reading, like meditating, does good things to the body. I’m sure there’s some science that shows physiological benefits to the body when we curl up with a book — the heart rate slows and the breath gains depth. We enter another world when we read, as if in a trance. We focus intently and we lose ourselves.

When I am stressed from working or parenting, I grab a book. Right now I am reading “The Other,” by David Guterson. It is good literary fiction, a great way to escape. I have to bow my head to it now.