Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
It was a Wednesday morning in November. It wasn't particularly early, but I had a little time to myself.
The apartment looked a lot smaller than the day before. Carefully labelled boxes were stacked in the dining room, making it temporarily unusable, dishes and kitchen appliances were on the kitchen counters waiting to be washed and put away in the cabinets, and the living room smelled very slightly like a storage unit and needed to be vacuumed. It was our first morning in the new apartment.
My husband was at work already, and my son wasn't up yet, so I sat on the worn couch, covered in a floral bed sheet until we could get a proper slipcover, with my laptop warming my pajamaed legs. Our TV and Internet wouldn't be hooked up until that afternoon, so I had a morning with no work and no mindless television to keep me occupied. But neither did I quite have the energy to unpack yet.
It was as good a time as any to work on the NaNo novel I knew I wouldn't finish. I didn't know why I'd decided to undertake the annual adventure knowing that we were moving in the same week my son had a surgical procedure, and only a week before Thanksgiving. As impossible as the task of 50,000 words seemed in 30 days ordinarily, this year seemed particularly insurmountable.
Still, it was a good reminder of why I called myself a writer. I missed fiction. I missed creating characters, conflicts, and watching something come from a blank white screen on my computer. NaNoWriMo got me writing fiction again, and that was important.
When I set out to write the novel I called Pondered in Her Heart in November 2010, I was excited about the idea. I could see it working, and I saw long-term possibilities to expand it, as well. It would be good for what it accomplished. But it was that morning, in those moment before the baby monitor signaled that it was time for a fresh diaper and a bowl of Cream of Wheat, that I realized exactly what NaNoWriMo 2010 meant for me.
Yes, it was about writing, and it was about sharing this story that had been knocking around in the back of my head for a while. But it was also about fiction. Just plain fiction. It had been so long since I'd really written fiction that I didn't need it the way I once had. I didn't think about my characters when I was doing other things, I didn't see a swirl of dish soap in my kitchen sink and jot a note to change a description in the fourth chapter.
Pondered in Her Heart didn't matter anymore. Oh, I was sure I'd keep working on it in November. And maybe I'd even finish it. Someday. But Pondered in Her Heart was simply a method to remind me of my real passion, my real project. It was just a writing exercise to warm me up to working on the coffee house again. I was, after all, the coffee-stained writer.
In the last half hour I had on the couch before my son called for me from his four-in-one crib, I did do some writing on my NaNo novel. But I spent most of it looking over what was saved here and there for my coffee house book.
And I made plans for December.