The Great American Novel. Or not.

I continue with the mantra, “Do hard things!” and realize that I, who see myself as fairly fearless, am really nothing more than a trembling leaf at heart. My last post talked about removing grains from my diet as HARD, but the truth is, there is nothing really hard about it. It is challenging, yes. It is at times mentally difficult, yes, particularly when, after many days, I don’t feel better and have to keep going on pure faith. But I realize that a truly hard thing must, by its very nature, be scary. There is nothing scary about changing my diet, but just yesterday, my daughter suggested something to me that made me shake with fear; well, figuratively speaking, but shake nonetheless. With utter casualness, she presented me with a hard thing.

Let me explain. Every once in a while, I have a friend encourage me to write a book. These little promptings usually happen after I’ve written some rambling thing on facebook, when I’ve been describing some minor catastrophe I’ve had to cope with. Other times they come after I’ve let some long dormant memory awake and express itself in print. I always laugh, and say to myself, “Oh, I’m no writer,” but the truth is, those are words borne of fear. I am a writer. Of course I am. I write. What else is required? I realize that I have a form of expression that is unique to me, that I have, in fact, found my Voice, that elusive je ne sais quoi that writers search for. So why don’t I do it? What is it? Is it lack of confidence? Lack of gumption? Lack of spine? What if people don’t read it; or worse, read it and dislike it; or worse, I start it and don’t finish; or worst of all, I start it and finish it poorly? Truth be told, the prospect of writing something meaningful (e.g. worth reading) is, well …. scary. Paralyzing. Filling me with terror. The outcome is an unknown I can’t control and therefore, most likely worth doing, and by its very essence … hard.


So last night my daughter, who is fifteen and has a blog of her own here, says to me, “Why don’t you do NaNoWriMo?” NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and happens each November. One logs on, creates an account, and starts writing. My daughter has participated the last two years, and she writes words, and words, and words. It’s really been quite amazing for me to watch, and even more amazing for me to read. But when she asked the question of me, I felt mild panic. I replied with, “What would I write?” She just looked at me, the look of an old soul pitying a mere youth, a look that said “That’s for you to answer, missy.”

So I’ve been thinking about it. I have three weeks before it starts, three weeks to think of my first word. (Yes, I am that paralyzed. I cannot even think of a beginning). It is certainly a hard thing, and therefore qualifies for my hard things project. Yet, I am horrified at the thought of saying it aloud. I’m thunder-struck that I’m even considering putting it in print. These words never die. Putting it here cements it somehow, and I know when I press “Publish” I will feel quite ill. But here it goes anyway…

This year I will participate in NaNoWriMo.


6 thoughts on “The Great American Novel. Or not.

  1. Arphaxad says:

    Good to hear you are attempting NaNoWriMo! This is my first year. I have written several posts about NaNo already. If you are signed into the NaNo site add me as a writing buddy: Arphaxad

  2. M T Antill says:

    Congratulations!! So you already did the hardest part, right? It’s all downhill from here 🙂 I LOVE your writing and am thrilled you will be doing more. Wishing you all the best. You are destined for greatness – yes i know you already have a wonderful family and blessed life. Go get it!

  3. Robin says:

    Awesome! 🙂 You can definitely do this, although I know your writing is so heartfelt and heart-driven that it will be challenging…and definitely worth reading! I’ll just say this, as someone who has participated in NaNoWriMo numerous times in the past, it’s exhilarating, exhausting, and definitely triumphant. Of course, I’ve only ever written fiction…and I don’t know how worthwhile any of it is (nor has any of it gotten published, either).

  4. Camilla says:

    I’ll be your cheerleader. You write the novel, I write a cheer for you, or a fight song, or something.

  5. Cynthia says:

    I do not have the courage that you are exhibiting to try this year, but perhaps I will make an attempt last year. I am sitting here laughing though because I can see the look Julianne offered you as though she were sitting here in the flat next to me! Smiling on so many levels after reading this post.

  6. MT says:

    If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world, it will come through the expression if your personality – that single spark if divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature. – Bruce Barton

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