If 2015 was the year that slayed with a thousands cuts, 2016 appears to be the year of the long recovery. Part of that recovery seems to be the realization that dreams don't become reality if you're too afraid or too caught up in current reality to take the first steps. And that's where I am today: caught up in current reality, treading water -- sometimes desperately -- and dreaming.
In the past two years, we've had a baby, I've dealt with a pregnancy-related heart condition, and my husband has been between jobs and starting his own business. Consequently, we've run through what savings we had, piled up the medical bills, and dealt with the overall increased expenses of adding another person to the household. I've spent most of the year just trying to find enough time between paid freelancing gigs, youth ministry work, and the requirements of family and house to take a bath or read part of a good book. And none of that has changed, but my perspective has shifted recently.
My friend Missy, who is also a freelance writer with kids and obligations and never enough time in the day for a shower, much less a dream, recently made a public announcement. I knew she'd been considering it and working a little on it for a while, but she put it out there: she's launching her own food blog on May 1. Like me, Missy has been working -- sometimes unceasingly -- for years to make ends meet by writing words for other people. She doesn't have extra time to do something that doesn't bring in money right away, but she's making the time because she knows it will make her happier and she's willing to work hard for a future where she has more freedom in what she writes. And she put a big public date on it, because it's sometimes the only way you can force yourself to start taking all those steps that bring you slowly, excitingly, sometimes painfully ever closer to your dream.
This post is my big, public stamp. The signpost that I hope will point those steps in the right direction throughout the next month. I've signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for April.
For those that don't know, NaNoWriMo is in November, but the program is run in virtual camp format in April and June. I've been assigned a virtual cabin with writing cabin mates. I have a goal: 50,000 words of fiction by the end of this month. That's 50,000 on top of the tens of thousands I write for clients and pay each month -- after all, following your dream doesn't keep the lights on or the children fed.
I receive pep talks via email from the camp counselors, and I'm sure I'll get as much sleep as everyone always got at summer camp. But I'm ready to do this. And I'd love it if you followed along with me.
I'm working on a middle grade (possibly YA) contemporary fantasy novel. It doesn't have a name yet. It barely has a plot -- it's currently a wispy piece of thought floating through the world, but by the end of the month, I hope it will be a messy, typo-ridden, glorious first draft.
Last time I made big plans known to anyone, my world exploded. I've also been burning the candle a little too hotly lately, and I recently told my friend Keith that I probably needed a sabbatical more than anything else. But instead, I'm going to write a novel. Or go insane. Either way, hopefully it will be entertaining.
I told Keith about the plan earlier today, and he said maybe this was just the push I needed to get going. Either he is right, or the universe will actually kill me this time around. To that, he replied that at least I'd get my sabbatical.
So, whether you are a writer, a reader, or my sister, I hope you join me through this mad spring month. We'll write, we'll read, we'll laugh, we'll weep. I might go insane. Write along with me, or cheer me through the process!
It's April 2, and I have 29 days and 50,000 words to go.