I had a strange thought this morning. Quite unbidden, it popped into my head as I dragged my sorry carcass from the bed and began sorting laundry ready for a day feeding the washing machine.
‘You don’t take writing seriously,’ it said.
I don’t know where it came from. I had opened my eyes and, before my first yawn was finished, was already thinking that I needed to get the washing done, should really start organising the little bedroom, and wondering what time DH would be up (he works nights) and what time to get the Sunday roast ready. I hadn’t even thought about writing. And that’s when my subconscious tapped me on the shoulder and coughed not very discreetly.
‘You seem to have forgotten that you haven’t written anything since Wednesday and you’re way behind with your NaNo novel.’
Ah yes, NaNoWriMo. Let me tell you something about that. When I first entered NaNo in 2011 – was it really only two years ago? – I was full of excitement and enthusiasm. I had religiously plotted out the novel scene by scene and knew exactly where it was all going. On the first of November I set to work, and by the thirtieth I had one hundred and twenty thousand words completed. Honestly.
It was the first draft of what would eventually become the novel I sent to the RNA NWS in August but, believe me, there wasn’t much of the original material left in there by the time I sent it off. Still, that’s where the seeds were planted, the foundations laid, and I was extremely proud of myself for having completed it.
In 2012 I entered again and managed to complete sixty odd thousand words by the middle of November. I never added any more to that. I had achieved winner status and had begun what I thought would be book two. In the meantime, I was more keen to get back to book one, which is what I did.
Now, here we are in 2013, and I entered again, although half-heartedly, and not sure if I would achieve much. After all, I had just moved house and had a lot on my mind and was very – well – busy. I have written in fits and starts, probably writing about seven days out of the sixteen that have passed. I haven’t even bothered to log on to the official website and update my word count. And I can’t say that this time it’s because I’m working on another novel. I’m not.
The truth is, I have become so bogged down in “ordinary” life again that I have pushed writing way down the list. Reconciling with DH has been quite tense. Learning to live with someone again after ten months apart, and having to please no one but myself, has been difficult. I’ve had to re-learn the art of compromise, not always successfully. Moving to a new house – lovely as it is – has been incredibly stressful. There are big changes at work and a feeling of unease that’s quite unsettling. My children have problems I worry about, my grandchildren are too appealing to resist, and there is the excitement of finding out two more are on the way for next year. Moving has been expensive and our expenses are going up and up, unlike our wages…my mind is constantly going over all these things and that’s before I even start to think about Christmas. I don’t think I’ll start to think about Christmas.
So where has that left my writing? High and dry, that’s where. And that little voice this morning made me think. I don’t take it seriously. If I did, it would be higher on my list of priorities instead of always being the first thing that I put off in order to do something else. It’s difficult. Writing isn’t my career. I have a job that keeps the roof over my head. I don’t make any money from writing and I don’t really ever expect that I will. But just because I don’t earn anything from it, does that mean it shouldn’t be a priority?
I am constantly day-dreaming about my characters and their lives, and coming up with new stories and plotlines. I sit at the bus stop in a morning thinking of possible titles. I often have my phone out, using the memo facility to record snatches of conversation that have amused me, or a name that’s caught my attention, or to write a note to myself to check a detail later. If it means that much to me, shouldn’t I be putting other pursuits to one side and treating the writing with the respect it deserves?
So, blog post done for the week, today I am going to be tapping away at my novel in between loading the washing machine and cooking the dinner, and tonight I shall update my word count on the NaNo site and tomorrow I shall get up earlier before work and write some more. But more importantly, I shall change the setting in my brain which says that writing is just a hobby – something I can do when I’m not doing anything else. Writing is my part time job. It may never earn me a penny but it’s saved me. When things were really bad in the real world, if I hadn’t had my fictional one to escape to I don’t know what I’d have done. Time to give it the respect it deserves. Things just got serious.
Have a great week xx