Plucking Words from Thin Air

The blank page stared at me like a great ghostly eye.

I might have punched it in the eye, had it not been a $600 Apple Cinema monitor. The apparition element was all my own.

But there was a reason for the empty screen. I had begun my fourth venture into National Novel Writing Month, pledging to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

And I had nuthin’.

All the novels from the previous years lined up inside my head. All were good books, a literary piece, a women’s fiction, and a middle grade low fantasy. I’d finished them all in the late winter after each NaNoWriMo, gone through peer critiques and rewrites, and felt pleased with the end results. One had won a contest. The latest was still being considered for representation by an agent.

But still, a lot of hours, a lot of my life, and a huge chunk of my energy and emotion had gone into them. And for what exactly? A file lying resident on a hard drive.

The cursor blinked quietly, ever patient. I started at the malevolent screen, empty, mocking.

Had I neglected my kids to do this? My business? Was the tradeoff worth the end result?

I leaned back in my chair, thinking maybe I wouldn’t participate this year. Or, sign up, hang out with the friends I’d made through NaNoWriMo and type gaily here and there, but not push to finish.

Then, somewhere, far back in my reptilian brain, I remembered a moment, a gesture, a bit of conversation, a big laugh, and then a character came full blown, and I placed her in a scene. Then her motivations came tumbling out, what she’d do under pressure, mixed in with a setting, a chance opportunity, and suddenly, I had an idea for a novel.

For any of us who create art in all its forms, what we do is not a choice, time wasted, or moments lost. It’s who we are, what makes us get up in the morning, and hopefully, if we’re really really good, really really perserverant, AND really really lucky, one day we will break out, get our art before others, and someone else will understand and connect with what we’ve done.

We’re 20 days into the race for 50,000 words. I hit 30K last night. I’m slightly off pace, but in good shape to finish on the 30th. During the same 20 days, I’ve done 30 photo shoots, created seven new holiday card designs, printed a heck of a lot of pictures, and written an article for

AND cleaned my daughter’s bedroom, helped with homework, had kids over for playdates, and baked at least six dozen cookies.

I think I’m going to get it all done.

As long as I don’t sleep.

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