I can’t do NaNoWriMo this year. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for the unenlightened.  It’s not that I don’t want to, because I do. But I’m on deadline (one I’ve made for myself) and I am still getting used to writing around a full time job.

Every writer’s loop I’m on, though, is pushing it. “Who’s doing NaNo? What’s your NaNo name? Let’s start a support loop!” The push is from ALL the writer’s groups. Not that anyone denigrates those of us who don’t do it; but it seems like EVERY writer’s loop I’m on, there’s someone putting together a NaNo support loop. Even my publisher has a NaNo loop. But the peer pressure to join the support loops? AMAZING.

If I WERE to do NaNo this year, I could technically join nine NaNo loops; I’d spend more time reading messages from the support teams than I would spend writing. Um, what’s the purpose again? I know, not every writer belongs to nine groups – some only belong to seven. Or maybe a conservative four. Still…I miss the “olden days” of NaNo. Back when only four or five thousand people were doing it.

When I first did Nano, waaaay back in 2003, the only people I knew who were doing it was my best writing buddy Jenn Reese and a couple writers I knew in Texas. It was a mostly solitary endeavor, with the exception of delightful posts from Chris Baty and the NaNo organizers; and I can truly say that my work was a vomit draft, with “no plot, no problem” my mantra. However, I couldn’t fix those 54,000 words to save my life. The book still lurks on my hard drive, waiting to pounce on me when I don’t have anything else to write about. Luckily, that hasn’t been an issue.

I next completed NaNo in 2008, along with my two teenaged sons and my husband. There were more people doing NaNo, but I focused on my own, internal support group. We all finished; we all rejoiced. That book is in much better shape, but because of the books I’ve written in front of it, it will now most likely be mostly scrapped – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll be able to save bits and pieces, just not the whole plot. *wince*.

The good to come out of this go-round of NaNo? My eldest son is taking writing classes in college and really enjoying them; and my youngest is doing NaNo again this year, only this time he’s writing in French. (Yes – in FRENCH. I have strange and wonderful kids.)

So all you NaNo-ers out there, I applaud you. I hope you’re plotting and planning, and that your novel-to-be has some sort of structure before you start (though technically that’s against the spirit of NaNo – or it used to be, anyway). I shall plug away at my novel rewrites and continue my blogging, and not miss the STRESS of NaNo at all. I can stress myself out just fine, thanks.

Maybe next year I will have the freedom to do NaNo again. But for now, I’ll cheer all of you NaNo-ers on from the sidelines – when I’m not busy writing.