Things have been rather quiet here of late, time and energy that might otherwise have gone toward thinking and writing, far better spent in time with my son and daughter in law, who have been with us for the past couple of weeks. And things may continue to be quiet, at least here at the Byline. For though my visitors are heading home in a few days, my time and energy will return to writing, but this time to the great novel writing effort that takes place each November. (trumpet fanfare) NaNoWriMo. Last year was my first foray into this madness, my first venture into fiction writing at all. When I signed up, I never imagined I would finish. But, I did. It wasn't terribly difficult to do - oh, I had a few moments of panic in the middle of the second week (apparently a normal occurrence during that period in the process), but I sailed through until the end, crossing the 50,000 word mark several days shy of the deadline. I admit to a bit more trepidation this year. Last year being my initial effort, I didn't feel quite so pressured to complete it. So what? I figured. I'll give it a shot and see what happens. I kept the entire project completely under wraps - no one (except my blog readers) knew I was participating. Once I was done, I printed out all 120 pages of Dear Samantha, put them in a folder, and tucked them safely away in the cupboard. But this year, having once completed (or won, as the NaNoWriMo folks call it), the expectation is much higher. How stupid will I feel if I don't finish this time? Am I just a "one shot wonder"? I went to bed last night nearly convinced to throw in the towel before I even began. Better not to start at all, I reasoned, than to start and fail. Hmm. This morning I awoke at 3:30, and couldn't go back to sleep. The usual worries started their familiar roiling in my mind, but underneath them was a nagging voice urging me to get up, start writing, don't waste this time. So, I did. Ensconced in my big green chair, steaming hot coffee close at hand, one dog curled beside me, the other on the ottoman at my feet, I started out on another journey into a land of make believe with a group of people I'm already getting to know much better. A couple of thousand words later (well, 2,844 to be exact) I'm once again feeling excited and energized about this project. Just do it, the now famous Nike slogan advises us. Good advice, for writers as well as athletes. Once you begin it, you're in it. So, forgive me if my posting in the coming weeks is erratic, or if I seem to have tunnel vision about this novel business. It's quite all-consuming, and I may need a place to brain dump periodically. And for the rest of you who set off this morning on the great novel writing adventure, I wish you godspeed and good writing.