Debbie Manber Kupfer
Ever since I was small I’ve always written. As a child I filled notebooks. At one time I had a whole series of school stories each in own exercise book. Somewhere in my basements these books still sit (I rarely throw anything away) and along with these childhood “books” is my first attempt at a novel. It was a kid’s fantasy. I remember it had a rather cool ogre in it. I wrote it in my twenties in exercise books. At the time I was living in Israel in a tiny one-room flat. I scribbled away in those notebooks, but somewhere along the way I got lost. Life took over and I stopped writing.
I moved to America, got married, had two children and finally found a career I love (I write puzzles for puzzle magazines). In the back my mind I knew I still wanted to write a novel, but thought I had plenty of time. When the kids are grown perhaps, then I would start.
Then about four and half years ago I found a lump in my breast. Cancer. I was terrified. But it is amazing what you get used to. I went through chemo, surgery, and radiation and today I’m happy to report that I’m cancer free. But my cancer taught me something, if you truly want to do something you shouldn’t wait. You never know how long you have.
In October 2012 the idea for “P.A.W.S.” came to me in a flash. I clearly saw a young girl being passed a silver cat amulet by her dying grandmother. I knew her story and that of her grandmother was important and something I had to tell. I told my daughter the story, who said “Mom, you have to write that.”
But how? How would keep on track, what with my kids, my puzzle work, and housework? For me the answer was NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org). Every year since the year 2000, November has been designated National Novel Writing Month. During that month writers from all around the globe take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words of fiction in one month.
I understood that 50,000 words would not get me a complete novel, but it would give me my best chance to keep on track. I set myself a daily target of 2000 words and just sat down and wrote. No editing, no distractions (I forced myself NOT to go on the internet each day until I was done with my daily words.)
Along the way NaNoWriMo sent me encouragement; pep talks from published authors who had taken this road before me. My word count grew and I was amazed with myself. I could do this. It felt like the whole world was cheering me on.
You can do it too! November is coming. Join me!