Personal Tidbits, Self Publishing

NaNoWriMo Newbie Here!

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner

Today was a special day for me because I became a NaNoWriMoer!

I first heard about this event last year when I started learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. Of course, I had to look it up to find out what NaNoWriMo stands for. (Psst…It stands for National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who might be encountering the term for the first time right now!) After I found out what it means, I wondered two things: What’s the point? and Why do people participate?

The point of NaNoWriMo is simple. Write a 50,000-word novel in one month! If you’re like me, not only is writing that many words in one month not so simple, it’s downright scary. But wait, there’s more. According to NaNoWriMo.org, the process is supposed to be fun and approached by the seat of your pants. Okay, so maybe trying to have fun and not editing after writing every other sentence might make the task less laughable and more doable. It’s worth a try, right?

But can’t writers attempt to write a 50,000-word novel for fun and by the seat of their pants during any month of the year? Of course they can, but the majority don’t. And even those who say they’re going to (ME, for example) often end up falling short. So why make an attempt during NaNoWriMo?

First of all, there’s something magical about setting a goal like this along with hundreds of thousands of other people. Within minutes of creating my account, I looked up friends who were participating and added them to my list of writing buddies. I also joined an accountability group on Facebook. I can’t even begin to explain the camaraderie I feel with fellow nanowrimoers. So I won’t. 🙂 But trust me, it feels great to share a common goal with so many other writers.

Second, making such a huge commitment in front of the hundreds of thousands of participants I’ve already mentioned lit a fire under me. I want to succeed, not just for myself, but for the entire community. Does it have anything to do with saving face? Yeah, okay, maybe a little. But I also want to be an inspiration to my writing buddies. Today, when I noticed that one of my buddies wrote 3,000+ words, not only was I proud of her, but it got me moving!

Third, I have my very own dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site that includes nifty progress trackers, such as a graph that reports my daily average and fun little badges to keep me motivated. For someone like me who’s driven by data and reaching milestones, it’s just plain cool. Today I wrote 2,182 words, which puts my required daily average at 1,091. I hope to decrease that average as the month progresses.

nanowrimo dashboardMy Dashboard

nanowrimo progressMy Progress Tracker

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, are you a newbie too? What’s your favorite thing about being a nanowrimoer?

Personal Tidbits, Self Publishing

Am I Really “Livin’ the Life”?

The other day, an acquaintance asked me how things are going.

I replied the way I typically do when I engage in small talk. I smiled and said things are great. Sure, I get stressed out from time to time (on a daily basis actually), and life with three kids is hectic as hell, but people don’t really want to hear about all that.

She responded to my upbeat answer with a nod and a grin followed by, “Just livin’ the life, huh?”

For some reason, I sensed a bit of negativity in her tone. So instead of continuing with the exchange, I ignored her comment and pretended to be in a hurry. Unfortunately, the comment continued to nag at me for the rest of the week. What really bothered me was that I didn’t know why it bothered me. I mean, isn’t it a good thing if people think you’re “livin’ the life”?

Then I came to this conclusion. It’s a good thing only if they’re happy for you. In this case, I feel as though this particular person has the wrong impression of what the life I’m livin’ is actually like. It seems she might be under the impression that I sit around leisurely typing novels when the mood strikes me (while my children raise themselves), and I’m rewarded with large sums of money from Amazon. Um, no. Here’s a rundown of what my life as a work-at-home writer is really like.

Like other stay-at-home moms, I take care of most of the household duties. Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. I also take point on caring for our three children, which involves scheduling and providing transportation for extracurricular activities, making doctor and dentist appointments, dealing with correspondence from school, making my boys’ lunches for school, and making sure they all have clothing, outerwear and shoes that fit properly. While my boys are at school, I keep my 3-year-old occupied with daily preschool activities, music class, gymnastics, general play and LOTS of conversation. (The one and only thing I do for myself is participate in a group exercise class at the YMCA three days a week, during which my little one goes to the daycare. Oh, and I occasionally squeeze in a shower.) After I’m done cleaning up lunch dishes, my little one may or may not take a short nap. Either way, I have a limited amount of time to get a small bit of work done before my boys get home from school. When that time rolls around, I help with homework for about an hour after which I start dinner. Making, eating and cleaning up dinner typically takes anywhere from one to two hours, depending on whether we eat leftovers.

Mix in my boys’ extracurricular activities (soccer, karate, gymnastics and piano) and most nights we’re pushing 8:00 by the time everyone is getting ready for bed, which involves showers/baths, brushing teeth, stories and tucking in. It isn’t until at least 9:00 that I really get a chance to work. And if there’s one word I would associate with novel writing, it’s work. A hell of a lot of work. But my work isn’t limited to novel writing (which includes marketing and social media maintenance, by the way). I’m also a freelance editor because I have to do something to earn enough money to pay for everything that goes into publishing and marketing my novels. They certainly don’t pay for themselves!

Bedtime for me is typically between one and two a.m. every night, including weekends. Then I wake up with my children and do it all over again. Day after day.

So, to the acquaintance who thinks I’m “just livin’ the life,” why yes, yes I am. I love being able to stay home with my children, and I love being able to write novels. I also happen to be a night owl, so I don’t mind the late shifts. But none of it is easy, and I make very little money compared to the number of hours I spend tapping away at my keyboard. (To be honest, my monthly royalties typically aren’t even enough to cover our cable bill.)

My point is, being a work-at-home mom who’s a writer probably isn’t what most people would choose if they knew what it was really like. But I happen to LOVE IT. That’s why I gave up a secure, salaried teaching position to do it.

So, yes, I’m “livin’ the life.” But I work my ass off, and there’s not one bit of glamour involved. Regardless, *smiles* things are great!

Personal Tidbits

East Coast Road Trip

Hi everyone! Sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately. I just returned from a much-needed vacation. My husband and I traveled for a week with no kids! It was the first time we’d gone anywhere alone since 2012. I thought sharing some trip pics would be a nice way to ease back into my blog schedule. Enjoy!

Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont

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Washington, D.C.

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The Cedars of Williamsburg Bed & Breakfast, Virginia

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Virginia Beach

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