Nanowrimo Week 4 can be a difficult time: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, all the temptations to sleep in, goof off, and enjoy the start of the holiday season with friends and family. And here you are, having to churn out X-amount of words for Nanowrimo. Fun, isn’t it?
Three years ago I had the worst ever last week of Nanowrimo. My beloved calico cat, Mitzi, aka Princess Mizzy, suddenly became ill from an undiscovered tumor the day after Thanksgiving. She was 16 years old, and the time for her to leave us was of course inevitable, but I just wasn’t ready for it now. Especially as on Thanksgiving Day she had been jumping around grabbing tofurkey off everyone’s forks; leaping from the back of the couch cushions; slamming through her kitty door to skid around on the icy patio. She’d always been a live wire, and that particular Thursday was no different than any other. But the next morning, she was still and quiet and apparently in great pain. It was awful. By the time we could see a vet, the consensus was that there was nothing we could do but say goodbye.
I was devastated. Over the previous eighteen months I had gone through that same depressing vet visit with my two other cats. Both of them, like Mitzi, were senior citizens who had simply succumbed to age-related illness. With Mitzi now gone, though, I was without any pets at all, and I can tell you, the last thing I wanted to do was write 1400 Nanowrimo words that would take me to the 50K mark.
When we came home from the vet that evening, Mitzi’s lifeless body wrapped in a little quilt I’d brought for her, it was snowing and dark. My husband went to bed, the strain and stress making it impossible to eat dinner or watch TV. My response was to go into a cleaning frenzy: laundry, scrubbing floors, rounding up cat dishes and toys and food for giveaways to the neighbors. By the time I was ready to go to bed I still had a few hours before the clock struck midnight and Nanowrimo 2007 would be over for good. I only had 1400 words to go. It was hard, but I wrote them for Mitzi.
It was a fitting tribute. Mitzi had been my writing partner in one way or another ever since she came into my life in Carrollton, Georgia. A pregnant stray, no more than a kitten herself, she was desperate for food and love, and she literally jumped into my arms the day I found her. The two years I wrote a pet-astrology column, "Zodiac Zoo" for the now defunct online site, Baku’s Zine, I gave her a byline of her own, deciding she had contributed as much as I had to the writing. Ah, Mitzi. Bunny and Poppy too. I miss them terribly. And I still have Nanowrimo pages to write.
When I sat down to write this post, I hadn’t expected to write so much about loss—this was actually meant to be an inspiring “pep talk." Maybe it still is. Because what I just want to say here is that life rarely offers up the “perfect moment” or time to write. Sometimes it seems all we have is the page, the pen, the typewriter or computer screen, and a backdrop of absolute chaos, despair, and worry behind us. Sometimes it seems impossible to turn our faces in the other direction and just write. But you know, you can do it. You really can.
I hope your week is a good one, and that you are not going through any kind of serious difficulties or problems. But if you are, I send you my most sincere best wishes for strength and healing, for patience, and the ability to overcome. There must be a good reason Thanksgiving falls during this last week of Nanowrimo—maybe it’s just to be thankful for all the goodness that writing and creativity brings into our lives. So let's be thankful, and let's write.
Tip of Day: Life happens. Not just during Nanowrimo, but all year long. What seemingly insurmountable obstacle is keeping you from writing? Maybe the best thing in the world is to write about it, and then write some more. You can do it.