Today I crossed the 50,000 word threshold for my National Novel Writing Month project. This is the third time I’ve completed it, having done it in 2007 and 2011 as well.
I got my official winner’s badge and everything.
This year I chose to write creative nonfiction (which is allowed, according to the NaNoWriMo blog). I wanted to record stories about my mother’s life and death, while the details are still fresh in my mind. As I went back and reviewed some old texts for particulars, I was surprised by how much of the information had already faded or mushed together.
This was, by far, the hardest NaNoWriMo project I’ve done. When I’m writing fiction and it’s going well, it’s as if a movie is unspooling in my mind, and my job as a writer is to write it all down. Plus I can add in or change whatever I want, because it’s my world and my story.
This was much harder because I had to probe back into actual events, pleasant and un. At times it felt like I was ripping the scabs off of wounds that are only beginning to heal. Other times I was remembering good times that are gone.
And we’re living in a precarious time in our family. At least one family member is in a bad mood at any given time. Another death in the family is expected soon, from cancer that was diagnosed just weeks before my mom got sick. My husband is preparing to take over guardianship of his disabled father, with all the legal and emotional work that entails.
I’m glad I recorded these stories, and hope that some day, once edited, they will provide comfort, or at least information, to my children. But I don’t feel the sense of joy that I usually do when finishing NaNoWriMo. To be honest, right now it’s much easier for me to write fiction than non-fiction. I spend a lot of time retreating into my own imagination to escape the realities of my life. And thank goodness for the ability of fiction to do that.
And now I think I shall celebrate by mentally escaping into fiction written by someone else.
NaNoWriMo: Done. Busted past 50K today and hit save. I’ll go back and edit this beast later.