There are three things for which I find myself grateful after this long weekend of gratitude. Of course there are more, many more, but these three stand out, their images playing and replaying in my mind.
The first was on Thanksgiving day. We all have things for which we are grateful, and on Thanksgiving we think about these things in a focused way, often with family, though not always. I was lucky to share my Thanksgiving with 11 other people I love.
We had a ham in the oven. It was something like halfway through the cooking time when I saw sparks through the oven window, a flashing akin to fireworks in the street. The element was arcing and my husband says he watched it arc from one side to the other and go dark.
I’m thankful that it was not a dangerous fire. I’m also thankful that my mother-in-law has a second oven. We left the ham in the dead one until the working one was hot, popped it in there and finished making a beautiful dinner.
Our nephew has something on his to-do list, but we did okay in the most important moment.
My mother-in-law is beginning to have trouble with crowds. She loves to have people around her, but at the same time it’s disorienting when there’s lots of noise and busy action going on. She kind of subsides into the background during large family gatherings these days. I’ve spent the last 30 years or so being invited into her kitchen in those busy times. We worked together, cooking and talking and cleaning and communing. Now, I have to create these times together. I have to choose a time when it’s quiet, not many other people around. I found the perfect recipe that we can make together. Saturday we did just that. I don’t have a photograph of her face as she poured the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry, the concentration and the satisfaction , but I can see it in my mind.
Here’s a picture of a flower. That comes about as close as you can get to the look on her face, and how it made me feel to see that face.
I just finished that month of the year that’s crazy for some of us writer people. I decided once again to give myself permission to play with a new project during National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo. In 30 days, a writer is supposed to produce 50,000 words. I’m impaired this month, following my surgery October 23. I’m right-handed, and had major surgery on my right shoulder. Keyboarding is a near impossibility for more than a few lines. It’s certainly imporving, but competing in a challenge that requires producing 50,000 words is a bit crazy.
I made an agreement earlier in the year with my husband that I would give myself the month of November to explore a new book idea and then get right back to finishing my current novel come December. So it was a challenge. That’s what these challenges are: challenging. I used Dragon Dictation to good advantage, in spite of the difficulties of producing a book by talking it. Then we went to my mother-in-law’s. After Wednesday evening, I didn’t have my recording device. Why did I decide it was a good idea to leave that device behind? I don’t know. I spent two days of the four that we were gone trying to make other devices and apps work for me. Simply put, they didn’t. I knew I could not keyboard all of the writing into the document, so I went with the old standby when I realized I could hand write in my notebook.
In other words, I used old time-tested methods for getting my word counts into the validation device and went from there. Last night, before midnight, I “won” NaNoWriMo. I produced 50,000 words in a 30 day period. But more than that, I produced the bones of a story about which I’m very excited. Much of the writing surrounding it might possibly be garbage, but I have the bones, and the synopsis I wrote toward the end of my evening last night will guide me through to find the pieces that really worked. I’m so excited to be building a middle grade mystery set in a historical time period in my own state.
Plus, I win. Not necessarily because I got 50,000 words out there, validated by a website with cheerleaders (which is actually a really cool thing). I win because I made a commitment, and I rose to a challenge inspite of some roadblocks. I didn’t whine. I put my hind end in the chair and I did the work.
**This post brought to you by Dragon Dictation**