NaNoWriMo and the Memoir

Sorry I’ve been so quite lately. We’re still sick around here, lovely bunch we are! We’re usually a pretty healthy bunch, but whatever this funk is we haven’t been able to shake it. First Little Dude was sick, then he got better (I thought) and I caught it, then I got better and he got worse, now I have it again and stronger than before. UGH. Took him to the ped today and the verdict is croup and allergies. Not much I can do but make him comfortable and ride it out. And his doc chastised me with an order to get to my doc, but what single Mama has time for that?! Nyquil and tea will do me fine. I hope :P

Regardless of all that, I’ve missed writing and my home here. So here I am, I apologize in advance if my writing is disjointed and all over the place. Blame the drugs, haha!

So, who recognized last week’s Wordless Wednesday?! If you are familiar with NaNo, hello fellow writer! If not, let me tell you a bit about it.

The folks over at the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit organization that encourages artists to “find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential”, designated November as National Novel Writing Month. Their efforts culminated in a global event, known as NaNoWriMo or simply NaNo, that unites writers everywhere in a single goal: to finally write that novel you’ve been thinking about for ages. The task: begin writing on November 1st. The goal: complete 50,000 words by November 31st.

I participated in NaNo for the first time in 2007 after being inspired by my sister, who is quite honestly the most talented and passionate writer ever. I wanted to expand beyond my simple journaling and college essays and write something fun, and NaNo seemed the perfect motivator. I developed a very simple story idea and, rather than planning and outlining and preparing, decided to fly by the seat of my pants and wing it. I wrote daily, corralling myself away in the evenings with several cups of tea and an endless playlist of music, banging away at the keys and pounding out pages of streaming text. It didn’t matter where the words took me, it only mattered that I was writing them. I opened the creative dam and let the stream flood out. It felt so great, even though The Hubs and our friends teased me mercilessly (they quoted this to me many times, and I found the video posted on my MySpace [hey it was cool back then!] as a nice surprise a few times, haha!). In the end, I surpassed the 50,000 word goal and ended up with a very Lifetime-movie-esque story that I never did really finish. BUT, I felt accomplished. I silenced that inner-critic and I wrote. With abandon, without limits.

Ever since then, I’ve felt the pull of that creative freedom. In 2008, I was hugely pregnant and dealing with complications. In 2009, The Hubs had just died and my mind was elsewhere. And in 2010, I was depressed and just didn’t care. This year? I’m ready. I want to write. It makes me feel whole.

As you probably know, I decided a short while ago to write the story of The Hubs and I in a memoir. When I realized what time of year it was, I thought what better opportunity to start than NaNo? For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking through it, planning it out, and admittedly romanticizing the entire thing. I thought, I’ll ‘go back to those fond days and do it again but this time tell our story, it will be a wonderful tribute not only in the words but in the timing and meaning, blah blah etc.’ But now, as the start date draws near, I’ll admit to you guys….I’m balking. I’m THISCLOSE to changing my mind.

The idea of writing a memoir of our love story seems absolutely perfect and natural to me. I felt the first twinge shortly after everything happened and it has only grown stronger since. When he was alive, The Hubs often pushed and prodded me to write our story. He said it was the ultimate love story, the perfect example of realizing how your destiny was right there in front of you, the quintessential “Lifetime” movie or chick-lit romance book or whatever else you equate as sickeningly-sweet-but-exactly-right-although-you’d-never-admit-it-to-your-friends. I always told him I would write it one day, after more of our life played out, and I feel him telling me that NOW is the time. Our story, while it will last forever, has sadly reached an end. And as much as I hate to face it, I know it is the truth and I know it is finally time to share with the world a true testiment of love, commitment, and overcoming adversity to love for eternity.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I need you, loves. Truth is, I’m scared. While the idea of writing our memoir seems so right, when it comes to actually DOING it, I’m so afraid to confront everything and dredge up all of the memories that grief has mercifully suppressed for me. I’m so afraid that I’m going to start writing, and things are going to start coming to the surface, and I’m not going to be able to handle them. While I’ve been told I’ve been strong these past two years, and I’ve allowed myself to believe it, when I actually inspect myself I know I’ve simply been avoiding the inevitable. It’s come out during a few painful moments and they’ve been so hard to handle. I don’t know what I’ll do if I finally allow myself to face it ALL.

So, my dear readers, what should I do? In your HONEST opinions, do you think I am ready to face our story head on and write about it? Should I tackle the memoir this November, or wait a little longer? Will it do me some good, or set me back? What is YOUR take on it? I’d love to hear any and all advice you have, good or bad or whatever. Please be honest, I need to hear it. Bless you for reading this far, and if you leave your insight, bless you even more.

Aside from this gripping forethought, there are other things going on in the NYAW household! For the first time in a few years, I am excited for the upcoming holidays! I already have a running list of things to do for Little Man and the rest of our wonderful family, to include a trip to Tennessee with my mother, a fun-filled week when Uncle J pays us a post-deployment visit, an event-based advent calendar, and a Handmade Holidays gathering for the family. Not to mention the 12 by 2012 list I’m working on and the never-ending DIY and craft idea list always running in the background. There will also be an EOD Memorial and EOD Wounded Warrior fundraiser coming this way for the holidays, just before the unveiling of the new non-profit our family is starting in honor of The Hubs.

Thank you, my dears, for always being here to listen, to support, to encourage when we need it the most. Your inspiration and reassurance means so much, not only to my family but to the many other widows who read this blog. We are a family, and we are there for each other always. Life may deal us a crappy hand, but we are hell-bent to play it as best we can.

<3

Laura

Oh Man Erin!
What a decision. I DEFINITELY think you should write the memoir. At least begin it. I think you should write what you find healing and slowly face the painful bits. Too much too soon may be a step back but if you save the parts and pieces for the times you can start to face them I think that would be really good for you. My recommendation would be to start writing what you can preserve without harm and slowly open yourself up to face the histories you have avoided.. I am proud of you for making so much progress. Feel a hug and encouragement from me!

I’m living proof that you can start NaNo and then stop if it’s not good for you. First of all, I’d erase the word SHOULD from the entire situation (and anything else you can erase it from). You can follow your creative energy and get started, and if you find it’s doing more harm than good, just stop. Especially since there are other factors going on for you in November (travel, etc) – that might help you get in the writing mindset, or it might be too distracting to focus. Either way is OK.

Tell you what — if you need to stop because it hurts too much emotionally , I’ll make sure to tell you it’s OK; and if I need to stop because it hurts too much physically, you can do the same for me. Partners!

[…] since I wrote that story, I have thought about participating again (I even came really close back in 2011) but something has always stopped me. This year, it is finally perfect timing. After feeling […]

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