Halfway Mark

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonMy mom likes to tell this story as an example of what it was like to parent me. We had this tradition where my parents would buy a bunch of toys, wrap them up, and give them to us every couple of hours during road trips, so we wouldn’t be utterly bored out of our skulls.

It worked, kept us from fighting, and was probably $10 worth of toys. Any parent will tell you that $10 is worth to cost for 2 days in a car with two girls with minimal fighting.

One year, we were preparing for a road trip to take me to camp, I think. Mom had all the toys bought and ready to go, and she said something like “I have something for you for the car tomorrow!” In that cute, half-teasing way that builds anticipation.

My eyes lit up. “Is it books?

According to my mom, she went completely agape, smiled, and took me to the library to check out a bunch of books for the trip. She took the toys back to the store, since her daughter would rather have a library than a toystore.

(For the record, this is only partially true. I would also like the toys, because toys are a great way to start telling stories and getting inspiration… inspiration which you then use to write… books.)

Just before high school, I sprained my ankle and couldn’t go to summer camp. Two weeks of immobility. Lots of TV-watching and doing paint-by-number kits out of boredom. I am sure I was driving my family nuts with my self-pity and wallowing. My mom had certainly been counting on me being out of the house for that time so she could get some of her own projects done.

Eventually, my aunt came and packed me up and took me up to Wisconsin to spend the week at her place. For no particular reason, other than giving me a different house to be bored in, really.

But, see, my aunt had an IBM Selectric, a ream of paper, a cassette player that auto-looped, and a full-time job.

From some time after I got up in the morning until sometime before she came home in the afternoon, I entertained myself by writing on her Selectric. Tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka went the keys as my fingers flew across them, spinning out the fantasy stories that had been in my head all year. The Princess Bride soundtrack played on a loop (whenever I didn’t have Dirty Dancing playing), nonstop.

I was, in short, in heaven. This, my friends, is what a wonderful vacation is for me– unending amounts of time to write fiction for fun with absolutely no restrictions or expectations. When I got into high school, I would take a spiral notebook with me on family vacations and write more stories, endless stories, about strange worlds and strange people. To this day, it is hard for me to pass up a well-made journal or blank book, even though I do almost all my writing on the computer.

It’s different from writing fiction for publication, which has a set of stresses and editing and revision and expectation that you cannot be entirely free from. But it’s not different from writing for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo recaptures the pureness and joy I used to get from writing.

And that, my friends, is why I reached 25,000 words today, on Day 8 of the month of November.