Sunday, December 8, 2013

The "come-alongsiders"

So encourage each other and build each other up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

Last month I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this yearly event before. From midnight Nov. 1 to midnight Dec. 1, participants strive to write a 50,000-word novel. The novels I write are around 90,000 words, but I can still sign up. Fifty thousand words are over half the manuscript.
Lest you get the idea that writing is some ivory-tower job and that I spent my days gleefully tapping away at the keyboard, eating chocolate and drinking tea, let me explain.
Writing is a gut-wrenching, ego-slamming, doubt-fertilizing job.
And it is a job. Just like with any job, you have to show up whether you feel like it or not. And many times – more times than I care to admit – I don’t feel like it.
The plot stalls, the characters go into a vegetative state, and I become what I call word-constipated. I look at the dust on my furniture getting thicker by the day, the clutter on my desk growing higher and more precarious with each day’s deposit of mail, and the hours my husband puts in at his job –for which he gets paid and with which he supports us – and I wrestle with guilt.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo three years ago and Camp NaNoWriMo, for which I set the word count I want to achieve, this past July. Both times things were rolling along pretty good until mid-month, when life happened and the project stalled.
This year, I saw NaNoWriMo as a kick in my fiction-writing pants, a chance to get back on track. I spent a good part of October preparing to write, reading how-to books, blogs and articles, and working on the plot and characters.
But nothing would come to life unless I sat down and wrote.
And so I committed myself to writing 50,000 words in Getaway Mountain. With 23,191 words already written, at the end of the month I’d be three-fourths of the way through the manuscript.
But it wasn’t easy. Far from it.    
At one particularly word-challenged point, I wrote “This is the stupidest story! How can I even think I’m a writer? I’m kidding myself.”
That’s when the “come-alongsiders” kicked in and said, “You can do it!” Rebecca, Heather, Josh, Linda, Melanie, Barb, all Facebook friends, were just a few who encouraged me throughout the month. My husband, who tolerated quick and sometimes self-made meals and me holing up in my writing room for an entire weekend, said, “You’re on a roll. Keep writing.”
By suppertime Saturday, November 30, I had written 50,485 words in November and met my goal.
But I couldn’t have finished without the come-alongsiders.
Mary, too, had someone come alongside her during a difficult time in her life: her kinswoman Elizabeth, the only person who would have believed her unbelievable story, who also was experiencing a miracle.
Many people have come alongside me throughout my life, and not only during NaNoWriMo. And I wonder: How many have I come alongside?
Come alongside – Who needs you to come alongside them today?
Thank you, Lord, for the come-alongsiders. Show me someone who needs encouragement today. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Luke 1:39–45


  1. Great post, Michele. I needed to hear this encouraging blog today, as I put the finishing touches on my book to be published next year. As for coming alongside someone, I had the opportunity this week to do that for one of my granddaughters. By the way, did you win the contest? You didn't say but the graphic made me think you did. In any event, congrats on writing a complete novel in one month.

  2. Thanks, Karen. For NaNoWriMo, winning means completing 50,000 words in November. My novel will be 90,000 words. I'll have it done before Christmas. And congratulations on your book that will be published in 2014. Make sure you let me know when it comes out so I can "make some noise."

  3. "Word constipated", what a great term! I logged onto the NaNo website after the contest ended and was so happy to see that you won! Good for you for sticking it out and plowing on through.

    You wrote, "How many have I come alongside?" and I wanted to let you know that you came alongside me as a mentor, and I am so thankful for your encouragement and input.

  4. Thank you, Rachel, for your encouraging words. You were one of the "come-alongsiders," too. You are a talented writer who was a joy to work with. Keep writing!