Getting Sick During NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month wasn’t what I expected at all this year. I didn’t have a glowing winning story, so I just slid on through and went on to the next task. But I kind of want to do a little update on it, since I told you guys which novel I was going to work on and was all unicorns and sunshine about it.

Well, it actually went splendidly and terribly at the same time. I got sick in the month of November and didn’t get better until well into December. It seemed like every virus under the sun hit us this flu season. My kids got everything, and there was nothing to do but suffer through and suck down vitamin C. This was, of course, not the best conditions for highly productive writing. I was a sopping mess of headaches and when my head hurts, I don’t do well. I just want to curl up and watch Netflix.

I persevered. I squeaked through November with 50,055 words of novel started. I still owe this baby another 100,000 before it will be a complete draft, but whatever, we’ll talk about that later.

But here’s the thing: for the first November in like forever, I didn’t make my word count every day. I did 3k and 5k days to catch up because I went days with only a measly 150 words or none at all. I felt like a loser. Like I’d never be a serious writer again. But I needed a break, as evidenced by my body breaking down the way it did, and it became more and more obvious that my brain was going to take a break no matter what I thought was okay.

As soon as December was back in full swing, I got my edit letter. And you know what? It didn’t look so daunting. I’d pushed through that crappy month of feeling awful and still got something down on the page. I’d made something of five weeks of couch sitting and stomach clutching and sugar deprivation and I’d made a freaking manuscript, just like I always do. What was 93k of edits? Psssshhh. I breezed through them and have complete ARCs in hand. Just a few proof-reads needed before the final version goes out. BOOYAH.

But those words from November are, surprisingly, not crap. They will need a great deal of revision. I still need to go back and finish the draft. It will probably daunt me like heck to even pick it up again and I’ll wonder again if I’m a failure. But you know, feeling like a failure doesn’t make you a failure. Life is like a first draft…until all of a sudden it isn’t. If you’re learning at all, that is forward motion. You’re going! You’ll get somewhere, even if it’s not where you set out to be. There might be a plot twist, and it could suck for awhile, but then it might turn out to be much nicer than you imagined. And honestly, as I’m about to roll over into full blown release work for Knights of Rilch and sprinty, crazy drafting on the third novel, I’m feeling more and more strength in being agile.

Being able to adjust well has never been my strong-suit, but I’ve been thinking about it and DANNNNGG, if I can bounce back from pregnancy and birthing and breastfeeding at all hours and sleep deprivation and all that craziness happening to my body, I can certainly take what the literary life throws at me. Of course I can. I can take the days when the kids don’t nap and I have to move my writing time to the night or the next day. I can bump a release date if the manuscript just isn’t ready. I can cancel stuff that just isn’t going to work out. And I can take new opportunities as they come.

Happy January, yo. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans a little in 2014.

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