My NaNoWriMo is not off to a good start.
Unlike 2013, this year I felt I was organised before 1 November. I had characters. I had a plan. I had been reading non-fiction books to fill out areas of information where I was lacking.
Then the trouble began. My son, the self-proclaimed Mini-King, proclaimed Friday night as The Night of Sleeping Dangerously. He woke hourly, calling us into his room, yelling at us for being in him room, then screaming that we weren’t listening to him. Hourly. EVERY hour. If I went in, he bawled for my husband. If my husband went in, he screamed for me. If we both went in – after all, we were both awake – he screeched about us both being there.
It’s not unusual for him to sleep badly. He has been prescribed melatonin to help his mind wind down, but it seems to have lost its effectiveness. He often has night terrors, but lately he’s been completely awake. On Saturday morning he woke up, after a merciful hour-long sleep-in, still mid-4am conversation, in which we were not listening and keeping him awake. He sounded surprised when he realised we weren’t in his room.
We were wrecked. The Mini-King had some small amount of energy, but my husband and I were acting like zombies. We managed to drag ourselves out of the house after readying it for an open for inspection, and made a start on Christmas shopping. When we got home we put on a Harry Potter DVD and slabbed out in the lounge room.
I was so exhausted that I – and this is difficult for a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience to admit – failed to notice the police, ambulances, and the air ambulance and news helicopter circling three properties away, about 300 metres directly outside our kitchen window, after a major incident.
So no writing on Saturday. In fact, I completely forgot about NaNoWriMo until about 11pm, when the Mini-King began his regime of sleep torture again. More calling in, more abuse, more insomnia. NaNoWriMo day one target: 1666. Written: 0.
Yesterday – Sunday – was a blur of coffee, another open for inspection, a birthday party, and grocery shopping. At about 8pm the Mini-King had fallen asleep without the multiple pre-bedtime excuses to call us in of previous nights. I too was set for an early night, ready to awake refreshed this morning to catch up on the 3332 words I was behind from the weekend, plus today’s 1666.
That makes a target of about 5000 words. Current total: 0. And here’s why.
I was going to list all the wake-ups, but after the first few they tend to blur. I do remember a lot of yelling; “I want to tell Dad! Get Dad”, “Dad’s asleep, honey. You can tell me”, “No!!!!!”; and more screaming at freakishly regular intervals.
At 3.15am after again copping abuse for being the wrong parent, I lay in bed thinking it wasn’t worth going to sleep because I’d be up again in 45 minutes. I thought about getting up to write, but was too tired to do anything vaguely intellectual.
So I thought about my intended book. As I said, I have a concept, characters and a plot. Unfortunately that plot contains the words ‘some catalyst needed to trigger XXX’. I’m missing a vital piece of the jigsaw. I even considered that catalyst being a seven-year-old son who causes permanent insomnia. Then I started questioning the entire concept, the setting, the characters and every other concrete detail.
Suddenly a completely different idea – one that I thought of about six months ago as a one-dimensional plot – seemed the better, easier option. Then I decided I could merge the two, and throw in three other story ideas that so diverse that it would be incomprehensibly disjointed. It's the same doubt that hit me last year, when I did completely change direction: different story, different genre, different age group. That's when the self-doubt set it: am I actually a writer? Can I do this? How can I write a story without knowing a major plot element? Should I give up now? Then, at 5am, I eventually fell asleep.
It’s now 9.43am on Monday morning. The Mini-King is at school. I have brain-dumped this blog post in an effort to kick my writing brain into action. I have more clarity, mainly due to coffee.
1. Drink more coffee.
2. Consider catalysts.
3. Write 5000 words of the original story. That’s the equivalent of six more blog posts like this.