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I actually did it!!!

Word Count: 52,578

Pages: 175

Which means ... drum roll please ... it's official, I am a National Novel Writing Month winner on my first attempt! Nano_2006_winner_small_1 Thank you to Matt who lived with me through this chaos and for understanding how badly I wanted this. And thank you to my friends who understand me and supported me by asking for word count updates and offered encouragement along the way. I think I'm just at the beginning of this journey, but I intend to celebrate personal victories along the way. Hurray!

I'm sitting here staring at this 175 page manuscript I've written in one month and I'm a mixture of proud, exhausted, amazed and wondering so, um ... Now what?

Picking up the pieces after NaNoWriMo, my desk and floor are covered with Day-Glo stickies with notes to self and word count tallies with daily goals under them ... I should keep a couple of those for my scrapbook page. I'm thinking of doing a page about this experience, because it was nothing less than an amazing experience. I am still tripping out that I really did it.

But, seriously. Now what? I don't want this manuscript - I LOVE how that sounds - to sit in my office, an addition to my collection of piles. I am surprised that at 175 pages, there's still a lot of story left to develop. I think my next step is to take stock of the story so far, go back and make some lists of character developments and plot points. Yeah, that's it. A list, that'll help lead the way. This writing marathon was just that, write, write, write. No stopping to look back and re-read what I did the day before so I have a lot of chunks of stories that need to be organized. Ohhh, that means a trip to the office supply store. I need a list and some colored markers to mark up the manuscript. I wonder if I'll get sick of saying that? And some charts. Definitely some charts.

So close, yet ....

Word Count: 44,408 (soooooo close!)

Nanowrimo_1 I still have quite a bit to go in this final week of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but I'm still hopeful I'll make it IF I stay focused. I'm getting antsy to tend to the many things I've neglected since this amazing little contest caught my attention.

Who are you?

Word Count: 0 since Lucy came home (but still thinking I'm going to make the 50K goal. Always been a deadline girl).

So after the big Meet Lucy announcement I got a few fitting responses like "but you're not a dog person" and an email from YaYa with this in the subject line: "Who are you?"

It is question I've asked myself often in the last couple days. For instance when I'm lying in bed discussing our puppy's poo habits with my husband. Didn't see that one coming. Or, when I'm setting my alarm clock for 2:30 a.m. and standing with her outside in the middle of the night trying to coax her in to going potty (for the love of God NOW so I can go back to bed is implied in my tone but lovingly, very, very lovingly). I wonder who I am when I am rooting around my lawn with a flashlight to make sure she went #2. Are you kidding me?! If you'd told me even on Saturday that this would be me today, I would've laughed my ass off. Or given you a look and said, "Yeah, well I'm not really a dog person."

And it turns out, despite the stink/puppy smell and the licking and the stepping in poo four seconds before I have to leave back to work (twice) and the no sleep due to crying in the middle of the night, I AM a dog person. Or maybe just a Lucy person. So much so that yesterday, I was determined to go to the post office with her. So we walked. Stopped. Walked. Stopped. During a downpour. It wasn't a downpour when we headed out but she refused to walk for so long and I refused to give in because I didn't want to teach her that she could decide when was a convenient time to walk. So we're soaked and freezing and there is no sign of the rain letting up and she is shaking so bad I can't stand it. I picked her up and tucked her in my sweatshirt and coat and carried her all the way back home. Showed her, huh?


Word Count: 30,119

This weekend in a nutshell:
1) Phase one of our flooring project is half way done 2) I wrote 5,000 words 3) We got a puppy! 4) Too exhausted to elaborate, more to follow.

This weekend in pictures:

First_board_1242pm Floors_55_hours_later

The front two rooms were finished six hours after the first board was laid. These guys busted a move! And they look awesome. Floors_in_progress

Lucy_in_box_lid Also we discovered that we are the type of people who would bring our baby home and put it in a drawer because we either a) weren't ready or b) couldn't find the right crib and figured, what the hell it'll be safe, warm and just fine in a drawer. This is why, while other puppies come home to waiting families complete with beds, toys, books about their particular breed etc. our little Lucy came home to a house under construction and Matt fashioned a little bed for her out of a copy paper box lid and an old blanket.

Just like me

Word Count: 24,616

So I'm on the edge of a mental breakdown and trying to figure out why and suddenly it occurs to me that it is just like me to decide to find my birth mom and write a novel in a month. And also sound the alarm on my approaching deadline to accomplish my annual goal to organize everything.

Also I am getting so frustrated at work and so much of it I can't post about here, but one thing I can say is that I am sick of our office being the junk drawer of the school. Don't know what to do with this pile of crap? Oh, send it to the office, they'll figure it out - or trip over it for two months. Oh, don't know how to deal with this kid? No problem, send him down to the office. Again.

After staring at the paperwork to send back to the investigation lady for a couple weeks, obsessing about how to answer the questions, I finally sealed the envelope tonight. I can't believe it sat on my desk for so long. Then again, I've been busy. And a little scared. This is potentially a big ass can of worms.

Draft Writer

Word Count: 18,001 (31,999 to go)

Still thinking I could make it to the 50K finish line ... I expect to be at the half way mark by mid-week. Unless I ran out of steam, words, coherent thoughts. So far so good though. Talking to Rose yesterday I realized just how different this is from my other writing projects. I've never really been a draft writer. I guess reporting took that out of me. When you're on deadline all the time you don't really have time to write rough drafts. Your notes serve as the draft I guess. Then you sit in front of the computer stringing the story and quotes together, fact checking, quote verifying, begging for a few more minutes or a few more inches and then put it to bed. On to the next story.

Without thinking about it, I applied that methodology to my fiction writing. Idea, rough notes in a journal or on napkins and index cards and then: Go! And then stop. This is the first time I've just flown through a draft like this, letting myself make mistakes and incomplete ideas knowing I'll come back to pick up the pieces. It is really fun to amaze yourself. 18,000 words in 11 days while working full time ... the hardest part is not to beat myself up for not having done this before (refer to Catholic upbringing) and instead look forward to more good writing days like this.

Besides discovering the wonder of draft writing, approaching my writing with this level of discipline and no apologies is new for me too. Saying no sucks for people pleasers like me. Doing less than I feel like I should do pains me. Holding off on doing things I want to do for others makes me feel like a bad friend. Walking by piles of shit on my way to the computer to meet my word count goal for the day is a struggle. Until I cry out with joy because I discovered a character's motivation for his actions, or how another character will fit into the story, a surprise to myself now and hopefully to readers later. And when I look at the clock and realize I'm done for the day, I feel good about what I've done, like I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. And it's a kind of happy I wish I could bottle up to save for darker days.

What would you want to know?

I decided to find my biological mother. Longer post on this later but right now I'm filling out the paperwork and trying to answer this question: Information about the person requesting the search (use back of form if needed to tell me a little about yourself).  So is this for just the person searching or will my bio. mom read it too? I don't know what to say. How do you sum yourself up in a few paragraphs? What would she want to know about me? Once I told a friend of mine who is also adopted some of the questions I'd like to ask my bio mom and she said, with a shocked expression, "Nathalie! You can't ask her that!" So clearly I'm not on track with what normal people would ask ... so my answers are kind of, well, they're me. I realized I felt like she might base her decision on whether or not to meet me on these few paragraphs, but like Jo pointed out, she's not going to say no because of my copious comma splices. But still.

I'm 30 years old. I'm a writer, married, pretty health, generally happy, self conscious, a graduate from Western Washington University's Journalism program, I've moved around between Washington and Oregon before settling into a small town an hour out of Portland. I dream about my books getting on Oprah. I'm a daughter, a wife, friend, sister, secretary at a grade school - just until Oprah calls. I grew up in a home with two parents, a brother and a poodle. My parents are from Slovakia and I learned to speak Slovak before English. Also, I can't whistle. And I'm a little nervous and excited about this process. This is the third time I've been this close to searching and the first time I've filled out the paperwork and written the check.

So that's what I have so far. Let's say you put a baby up for adoption. What would you want to know?

Patron Saint of Writers


Word Count: 12,794

Who knew there was a Patron Saint of Writers? I don't remember that coming up during training-to-be-a-good-Catholic. Where was I the day we learned about that particular Patron Saint? Or any of them actually. (See below for link to alphabetical list). Now that I'm getting into being an Irish-Slovak person I'm all about the Patron Saints. Okay, fine. Truth is, I am procrastinating and looking for a little inspiration to keep my word count going ... and for good words not just words for the sake of accumulating words. I love Girlbomb's category titled: Obsessive Use of the Word Count Feature because it is such a true description of how it is. Oh, so back to the Patron Saint of Writers. There really is one: Saint Francis de Sales.

There are saints for bee keepers, comedians, cooks, dairy workers, gypsies to waitresses and women in labor. Interesting to note that the saint for immigrants and impossible causes is one and the same. I'm just saying.

For an alphabetical list go to:

**Study this picture for a second. Doesn't it make you wish you could warn little kids everywhere that nothing in life teaches you what the hell to do with your hands. I'm the one in the front row, with knee-highs and a bowl cut, throwing signs.

The Patron Saint of Writers is known for, among other Sainty things, saying like these:

Perfection of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul.

Saint Francis de Sales

The greatest fault among those who have a good will is that they wish to be something they cannot be, and do not wish to be what they necessarily must be. They conceive desires to do great things for which, perhaps, no opportunity may ever come to them, and meantime neglect the small which the Lord puts into their hands. There are a thousand little acts of virtue, such as bearing with the importunities and imperfections of our neighbors, not resenting an unpleasant word or a trifling injury, restraining an emotion of anger, mortifying some little affection, some ill-regulated desire to speak or listen, excusing indiscretion, or yielding to another in trifles. These things are to be done by all; why not practice them. The occasions for great gains come but rarely, but of little gains many can be made each day; and by managing these little gains with judgment, there are some who grow rich. Oh, how holy and rich in merits we should make ourselves, if we but knew how to profit by the opportunities which our vocation supplies to us! Yes, yes, let us apply ourselves to follow well the path which is close before us, and to do well on the first opportunity, without occupying ourselves with thoughts of the last, and thus we shall make good progress.

Saint Francis de Sales