After last year’s staggering inaugural NaNoWriMo run of 66,323 words focused on the seed of a memoir brewing in my soul, I was kind of excited to get back to it this year, especially since I’ve not done a whole lot with that word stash since, except think a whole lot about what in the actual hell I’m going to do with it. I really hoped that getting back on the NaNoWriMo train would rekindle my focus and effort.
This year, November 1 was a school day, in-person, early to the lab kitchen, then home again to finish packing, and spend a lot of time preparing nibbles for a long day of travel the next day. No writing done on the 1st. The 2nd, Bay Area Blind Mom and I spent the whole day, yes the whole day, traveling from our homes in the Bay Area to our hotel in Old Town San Diego for the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of California, arriving at our hotel room in the wee hours of the next day. From the East Bay to San Jose, a rideshare, from San Jose to SanLuis Obispo, a cramped charter bus. From San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, the whole reason we opted for this route in lieu of flying, a cozy coastal train ride that hit the coast just in time for sunset.
As a native Californian, I’ve travelled this route a thousand times, and it’s something that I savor every time like it’s the first. We had wine, we had nibbles. I did some homework due that night that I wanted to get done and not think about anymore. Still no NaNoWriMo progress. We hit LA near 11 PM and transferred to another cramped coach bus that would take us to our final destination short of the rideshare to the hotel, Old Town San Diego. I was exhausted by now, foggy headed and barely able to hold more than one thought at a time. And I was determined. I broke out my bluetooth keyboard and rested it on the flimsy seat back tray in front of me that was barely the same size as the keyboard I placed on top of it and pushed myself to write something, anything. Quickly finding my edge, I checked my word count, just somewhere north of 300 words. Disheartened of how short I was of hitting the daily 1667 word goal, let alone making up for missing the previous day, I pushed a little harder, 584 words was apparently all I had in me, and by now, I’m certain I was writing useless, incoherent giberrish. I let go, put my stuff away, and napped uncomfortably until we arrived in Old Town around 1:30 AM. For the next 4 days, I was in convention mode, reconnecting with old friends not seen since our last in-person convention in 2019, meeting new friends who got involved during the pandemic, and doing all the things a busy scholarship winner does, go me, and much gratitude to the great folks at Clusiv.io for sponsoring my scholarship and making the basket auction at the banquet the liveliest it’s ever been, and we’ve had some very lively auctions.
I was not writing for NaNoWriMo. The lead up to this excursion was busy with school and life and the week following didn’t let up either, with two back to back medical appointments as soon as I returned from San Diego. Not a word more written with much of a thought to NaNoWriMo until I journaled about it on the 16th, putting my word count up to a whopping 1325 words, far short of what would have been a cumulative goal of 26,672 words by then. I’m already prepping for Thanksgiving, still deep in school mode and managing myriad other personal affairs like my parent’s ongoing estate circus, my new case with the Department of Rehabilitation, a job search, and ongoing medical issues. I finally embraced that NaNoWriMo isn’t happening for me this year, and that’s ok. Here’s why. This year, for better or worse, is nothing like last year, however, and my word count now that we’re just over the hump of November and moving into the second half of the month is an anemic 2095 words. last year, I earned all the badges for writing every day, all the word milestone badges, badges for updating daily, more than once a day, streak badges, the badge for hitting the first day, and the badge for hitting the final goal; this year, I currently have earned just one badge, that for simply updating my progress at least once. Suffice it to say that I’ve more or less given up, though I’ll take credit for this blog post and some journaling I’ve done about the subject and maybe, just maybe, I’ll clear the month with 10% of the goal, even if I am not actually generating content and just writing about writing, it’s a process that still supports the bigger memoir goal. And that’s ok, because I’m taking away a very valuable lesson here. As much as I love to write, I believe this project has finally evolved beyond the written word, for now at least. What started last year as a cathartic and sometimes painful pouring out of my memory banks, complete with some traumas and lots of emotions, came back to where I really wanted it to be, to food. And a serendipitous drop in to just the right ClubHouse room on cookbook writing back in July unexpectedly gave me the refocus I was looking for. I’ll be refocusing my energy less on the words and more on the food parts of the memoir. The kitchen, after all, is my happy place, and it’s time to get down with one of my favorite activities, recipe testing and development to revisit a long list of food memories and influences that somehow got me to where I am today.