If I Can Do It….

As many of you know, I am knee-deep in NaNoWriMo now.  No, it’s not a potentially contagious disease (although my mother has contracted NaNo fever this year and is working on a brand new fantasy).  It’s where writers and wanna-be’s the world over decide to dedicate their time and sanity toward writing at least 50,000 words of a new novel.  It may seem a lofty goal, but it averages out to 1667 words per day, assuming you write each day in November.

I have tried–and failed–three times before this.  Each time, I went in with gusto, convinced I’d come out with a workable rough copy.  And each time, a few weeks in, I thought, Eh, maybe I should be working on something else instead.

Not this year.

My pedal is fully to the metal, so to speak, and I really have no doubt I will meet the 50K goal.  In fact, I’m so confident, I’m raising my personal goal to 80K, or whatever it takes to write the words The End, by November 30th.  Granted, I’ll spend the next several weeks (months?) in rewrite and edit hell, but I’ll have something to work off, instead of having these ideas and characters trapped in my head.

Despite my bravado, it is daunting.  Writing a book–even a rough draft–in a month is a lot to take on.  And I can understand why some may shy from participating.  Whatever their excuse, however (barring any unforeseen natural disasters or family tragedies), I believe every single person who has the will and drive can make it happen.

I know some of you are in school, with classes and homework taking up a large part of your day.  Others work full-time, and by the time you’re done, your energy is depleted.  I understand all of these things.  I work full-time, leaving for work at 0845 and often getting home around 7 or 7:30 at night.  And when I do get home, I have an Autistic six-year-old to watch.  Why point out the fact she’s Autistic?  Because as time-consuming as kids are, my daughter is especially so.  I can’t don my headphones and get to typing for fear of her getting into something (which she will; she has no qualms taking advantage when we let our guards down).

The need to constantly be up and down, trying to keep an eye on her, isn’t very conducive to writing.  So I’ve had to devise some workarounds.  I get up early in the morning, about an hour to an hour and a half before I need to, for the sole purpose of writing.  Yes, I’m tired and more than likely shaving years off my life, but I’ve gotten a lot accomplished in this time without taking time away from my family (just those last few years of my life that really weren’t going to be all that high quality anyway).  Then, when I’m done, I email it to myself at work, so that I can continue writing during my lunch break.  That gives me about another 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time I have to spend eating.

This practice has allowed me to stay ahead of the curve this NaNo season, even though I missed out on a few days already.  If the need arose, I know my wife would allow me some time to write at night as well, but I truly try to not take up any time I could otherwise be spending with my family.

No, the one who is truly suffering here is my PS3, who sits up high on a shelf, watching me stumble down the hallway every morning.  I can practically hear its Cell processor thinking, Pick me.  Pick me.  Remember how much fun we have together?  We can have that again.  Just don’t go to the keyboard.  Pick up a controller.  Not the keyboard.  Not…Damn!

Don’t worry, PS3.  This isn’t forever.  Soon, NaNo will be a thing of the past (although I’ll be mentally preparing myself for next year).  Even with edits and rewrites, I’ll find a way to bring you back into my life.

Because not only am I a father, a husband, a full-time employee, a writer and, arguably, a generous lover…I’m also a gamer.  And if I can be all those things and still beat the 50K goal, anyone can.

S.L. Madden

(BTW, if there are any other fellow PS3 gamers out there, my gamer id is fractality820.  I could always use more friends.)



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