Stubbornly Doing the Impossible: NaNoWriMo

by Rachel Creager Ireland

Journal 2

Since she was very small, a baby, even, my eldest daughter has had a unique way of challenging herself to do impossible things, just because she’d decided that she wanted to do them. Invariably when reality sets in and she sees that what she’s trying to do is impossible, she becomes inconsolable. As a baby, at those times, she’d cry and take the breast; as a toddler, she’d tantrum; now that she’s eleven, she still cries and suffers quietly when she discovers that what she has set her mind to is firmly outside of her reach.

Everyone agrees she got this trait from me. Which brings us to NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know about it. When I first heard about NaNoWriMo, I was sure I’d never be able to do it until my children went away to college. But, since it’s impossible and lots of other people are doing it, and my kids really are much more independent than even a few years ago, and I’ve yet to fulfill my New Year resolution of writing a draft of a novel by the end of the year, It looks like just the thing to do.

The NaNo challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. that’s commonly broken down to 1,667 words per day. I knew I’d slack some days, so I set my daily goal at 2000. It’s now the fifth day, and past 11:30, and I am dozing off between sentences, so I’ll quit. Just because I like to do the impossible doesn’t mean I want to suffer. So, at the end of the fifth day, I have 4,897 words of a draft which I am very pleased with. You can guess from that number that I haven’t actually made even the low goal in any day yet. The likelihood that I’ll get to 50,000 by the end of the month is looking very small right now. Should I give up? Ha! An attitude like that doesn’t enable a person to achieve the impossible.

Here’s an excerpt.

What we know up to this point: Stella is a witch, she operates the family farm alone, in the mysterious absence of her family, and she’s just met a scientist named Trevor, who is temporarily staying at a local motel.

Moon Trine Neptune

The only light was from the stars, but that was enough for Astra. It was easier for her to wander by night. Most of the interesting things people did happened at night, anyway, and she could sometimes float into the dreams of those who slept. She knew all kinds of gossip that waking people were clueless to, who was sleeping with whom, who was embezzling from their business partners, cooking the books in their offices late at night. Occasionally she would comfort an anxious dreamer (It’s okay, grades don’t really matter) or warn nasty people to change their ways.

It was getting a bit old, though. She was starting to feel a desire rising in herself, a desire to waken physically and do things of her own. Everyone had those computers and phones and things now, and she’d love to get her bodily hands on some of those. To talk to people in their normal state of mind, not just in the surreal landscapes of their dream states. Her old friends were grown up now, and married (some already divorced!) and had children. If only Stella would get a clue and figure out what to do. Astra knew exactly why things were the way they were, but she couldn’t tell Stella directly. She was firmly shut out of Stella’s mind.

Even as her desire to awaken grew, her ability to act out there was strengthening. She was finding she could shift things; if not always physically, she could shine light on things, make them appear differently. Her experiments with the radiator hose were encouraging. There must be a way Astra could manipulate Stella with further nudges. That scientist, for example, he might be useful. Unlike the locals, he didn’t know a thing about Stella, so he would have to get to know her to find out what a dip she was. Plus his rational scientist brain might be the one to finally put two and two together, and get Astra out of this situation. How to get their paths to cross . . .

And then her mother was there. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?

Well, somebody’s got to do something.

Mm. I suppose. But be careful. You’re playing with people’s lives and feelings.

Nice to know you care so much about my life.

Mm hm. Likewise.

Astra drifted away. In town, a dog in a pen was barking through the fence at a rabbit. A couple teen boys were making out in the cab of a pick-up truck parked behind the abandoned movie theater. And at the Hillview Motel, Trevor Claraday was dreaming about Stella.

This was going to be easy.

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