Prologue: NaNoWriMo is here, and I’m going to write!

Before I start with anything, I wanted to give you, readers, a little bit of background on what I am doing, to hopefully shed a little more light on this project.

As many of you are probably aware—if you are writers, at least—November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. While I have not always been able to participate for various reasons, my first time doing NaNo was eleven years ago. Over the course of the years, I failed some and won some. Two of my novels written during NaNo are now published with Bold Strokes books! (Andy Squared and Meeting Chance) Due to grad school the last few years, on top of my already full teaching schedule, I was unable to really participate in the festivities. I tried, but I failed, and failed hard. I am proud to say that many of my students participated, and some of them continue to do so!

This year, however, I am getting back into it. I have the opportunity. With two different jobs that afford me plenty of time, even though I also have grad school, I feel that I can successfully complete NaNoWriMo and emerge on the other side relatively unscathed.

Most of you know that for the last several years, since The First Twenty was published, I have had a case of crippling writer’s block. It’s been dreadful. Not only do I not know what to write (despite having thousands of ideas), I just can’t sit down and focus long enough to do so. Peyton and Nixie are at a standstill with just over five thousand words in their next story. Colby and Enash are chomping at the bit, ready to go. But I just can’t do it.

This is year is going to be a game changer. Instead of doing fiction, I’ve decided to try my hand at nonfiction. A memoir of sorts, if you will. There are several reasons I decided to do this, which I’ve highlighted below:

  1. Maybe something different that isn’t related to school or novels will cancel my block and open the floodgates.
  2. Nonfiction will allow me to play with words without really worrying about structure of plot. I can say what I want and ramble if I need to, in a stream of consciousness style.
  3. I can change methods every day if need be.
  4. My recent diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome has been an eye-opening experience, one which has led me to fill a Moleskine journal with my thoughts and recollections. As a writer, I want to share what I’ve written, even if some of it is personal. I figure if I share it, maybe people will understand me more.

 

Over the course of this month I will be sharing my posts on a—hopefully—daily basis. Of course I might slack a bit, but my goal is to get out of this rut and share with everyone. To help me focus, I have decided to adapt the list written by Samantha Craft, which can be found on her website here: https://everydayaspie.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/females-with-aspergers-syndrome-checklist-by-samantha-craft/

I like having lists and checking things off. This list is particularly exciting because it pretty much describes my entire experience. Reading over it triggers so many “aha!” moments that I spent hours writing in my journal. Since then, I’ve had even more, which I intend to share over the course of November.

Please join me my journey of self-discovery. These posts will be as true as I know them to be. If at any point you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment on here or wherever this is cross-posted. You can also email me at writerjenlavoie at gmail dot com. I would be happy to answer your questions.

Book Review: Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? by Dan Bucatinsky

I’m a member of a book club that sometimes ships the new books automatically…because I’ve forgotten to decline the books. In this instance, Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? came to me because I had – once again – forgotten to turn down the selections chosen for me. Since I already paid for them and the package had come, I didn’t really feel like sending them back. It was too much of a pain.

I’m glad I didn’t.

Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad is a hysterical memoir on a gay man’s struggle to adopt a child with his husband, and become a parent. But it’s also much more than that. The book has anecdotes from throughout his life that pretty much anyone can relate to. One example, the chapter “The F Word.” No, it’s not what you’re thinking. The word in question is “fat.” Bucatinsky relates his experiences with food, both positive and negative, and how he still struggles to overcome them, and how he tries his best not to pass the food anxiety on to his children.

The book is hilarious, too. By page two I had already laughed three times (I stopped counting after that) and the laughs just kept coming. I couldn’t put it down, either. I stayed up late to read it and had to smother laughs behind a hand to keep from waking up everyone in the house.

But the book is also heartbreaking. The author talks about the loss of his father and struggling to find the right time to open The Box that was left for him. It is the exploration of two men who have different backgrounds and try to find a common ground in not only parenting, but cultural traditions.

Whether or not you are a parent, I highly recommend this book. It has a little bit of something for everyone, and it shows us that no matter what sort of marriage you have or who your partner is, all parents have the same fears and insecurities – and grossouts – about their children.

You can purchase this book now from Amazon.