My guest today is Margo Upson. I think you’ll enjoy her unique amazing story. When I first heard her talking about this I was absolutely blown away. I hope this touches your heart and gives you some encouragement. I so needed to read this today when I was at a point of nearly giving up.
A Family Affair: What My Daughter is Really Learning from NaNoWriMo
The first time I heard about NaNoWriMo, I was 25, and working from home while raising my then one-year-old daughter. It was the middle of October; I only had two weeks to decide whether or not I wanted to participate. I did research and character work on October 30th, drew a very brief outline on October 31st, and then started writing early next morning. It was a wild month, but I finished.
I’ve participated in every NaNoWriMo since, save one year, and I’ve won each time. My strategy now is a lot different from what it was when I started. I have a plot by mid-September. By the middle of October, I have a detailed outline, character sketches, and a notebook full of research. I have postcards stuck to the dining room walls (which gets a little awkward when I host Thanksgiving– I write romance!). I tend to start strong, fall behind in the middle, and then catch up during the last week.
This year, I’m struggling to find time to write. It’s really the first year that life has really caught up with me. Between work, school, and family life, time is short. I’m behind; according to the NaNoWriMo word count tool, I need to write 2,161 words a day to finish on time.
Fortunately, I’m not facing this challenge alone. In addition to a few super-supportive friends, my oldest daughter is joining me for her second year of NaNoWriMo. She’s seven, and working on a story about pirates. On any given evening in November, you’ll find the two of us sitting out in the dining room, working towards our word count goals for the day. Her younger sister usually joins us, bringing along her crayons and a coloring book.
I don’t plan on my daughter growing up to be an author (but I’d be very supportive if she did). I encourage her to join in for the experience of taking on a huge challenge, and then working diligently through the month until she reaches her goal. It’s an opportunity for her to experience a world outside of her school and friends. She’s not old enough to go onto the forums, but she loves knowing that there are so many other young writers out there, writing along with her. We’ll also be going to our first write-in this year. She’ll get to sit in a cafe with all of the adult writers, and work along beside us for an hour or so. It will likely mean missing a day of school, but I consider the experience of meeting other authors to be just as important, probably more so, than a single day of second grade. (Apologies to all of the teachers out there. I’ll get all of her make-up work in advance–I promise!)
My daughters are growing up with a writer for a mom. That means that their bedtime stories are often bits of research from my current work-in-progress. It means that I’m going to hand them a book to read instead of turning on the TV. It means that, when other parents are taking their children to amusement parks, mine will be traveling to wherever my current book is set. Where, admittedly, we will probably also be visiting the nearest amusement park. Children need roller coasters, spinning tea cups, and overpriced hot dogs just as much as they need historic sites and dusty museums.
But it also means that they are growing up with an appreciation for the time and dedication that it takes to turn a dream into reality. So, when November rolls around and it’s time for NaNoWriMo, I’m going to invite them to join in.
Because when my daughter sits down to write at my side, I’m not encouraging her to attain my dreams. I’m giving her the tools she needs to reach her own.
What an amazing woman! As enjoyable as those spinning teacups and fairy tale theme parks are, this is some real quality time. I encourage my childrens’ creativity. I’ve never had my girls sit down with me like this, but I do encourage them in their own ways. This just blessed me on a level that I can’t fully express. Margo – you rock!
Isn’t this what it is about? Not only reaching our dreams but training up our children to become strong people in their own right, encouraging them in their individual choices. I think it’s so cool that NaNoWriMO is able to help in that endeavor!
Write on my friends, write on!
Margo Upson is a marketing major, a freelance writer, and an aspiring author. She writes time-slip romance, and her first novel, Grisamore, is set for release in Summer 2015.