NaNoWriMo Stories: Sanity Check, Guest Post by Amy Mullis

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sanity Check

by Amy Mullis

I love November. The month decorated with shades of orange and gold and...wait. That was October.

November is the month we plan a meal that involves more food than a jetliner requires fuel. We must clean the house, yes, even the corner behind the litter box, because it’s a safe bet the baby will find the petrified Snickers bar and spit it out with a flourish, wrapper and all, when you serve the pie.

We need to see if we have 24 cloth napkins to match the tablecloth and they have to be clean because if Aunt Maude gets the one with the wine stain, she’ll convince everyone that we’re a family of alcoholics who eats candy off the bathroom floor.

Oh, and while we’re up to our elbows trying to shove stuffing into a cavity the size of a quarter, lets take on a writing challenge and agree to throw down 50,000 words like they were marbles on the playground.

If I were into role playing games, I’d be rolling for a sanity check right now.

Head down, I’ve been typing away since the stroke of dawn on November 1. By the second week I finally began to pull ahead on my word count.

Before much longer, perhaps I could work in a bathroom break.

Why do life lessons happen at the most inconvenient times?

A call came from my son, who had one of those days at work. On the ten year college plan, he’s hovering between adolescence and adulthood and presently sitting under a cloud so dark that he was willing to talk about it.

I looked at my blank computer screen.

I looked at my phone.

The computer buzzed a faint protest as I turned it off.

We spent the day as a family, eating fresh doughnuts at a bakery shop where the air smelled of sugar and childhood memories and wonder. We took a trip to the local discount theatre, and laughed at the antics of a curmudgeon turned hero. We ate at a local fast food restaurant, sitting on high stools, swinging our legs.

Then came magic words. “Being with you guys makes up for everything that happened today.”

The next day I got up early. In two hours, I made up the word count from the day before. My mind was relaxed; its empty cup filled with new thoughts, new schemes, new ideas. I finished the day with enough words to pull back ahead. And it was fun!

Take a day off? Crazy. I never would have done it on my own. But it increased my productivity and gave me a fresh outlook.

Take a break. It doesn’t have to be for a day; it can be a walk down the street, looking at the miraculous change the seasons have made in the world around you.

And don’t worry about the napkins. If Aunt Maude gets the one with the wine stain, it will make a great story.

* * *

Amy Mullis is a humorist and essayist who hitched her computer to the NaNoWriMo locomotive for the first time this year, and figures she has to hang on until the end of the ride because she can’t figure out how to stop the train. Her work has appeared on the humorous blog An Army of Ermas and in various Chicken Soup and Cup of Comfort anthologies as well as The Christian Science Monitor and Sasee magazine. She was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. Join her for some "Don't let this happen to me!" moments on her blog, Mind over Mullis .


Betty Craker Henderson said...

The strange part is that the day off seems to have disappeared as soon as its over, right? But it is sure great while it lasts. And it always, always, always provides more raw material. Because what is writing but reflections of life itself?

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