‘You what?’ my husband says when I announce I’m planning to take part in NaNoWriMo (a global writers’ challenge to pen 50,000 words of a novel between 1st and 30th November).
‘Are you bonkers, Mum?’ echoes my nine year old looking up from his iPad with quirked eyebrows. ’50,000 words in a month? How on earth are you going to do that?’
‘Does it mean you won’t be able to build my Lego spaceship with me like you said you would?’ adds my youngest in a wobbly voice.
All good questions (albeit not the ‘go girl!’ cheerleader cry I’d have liked). Am I mad? Will I be able to do it? And what will it mean for my family life?
‘There’s a website about it,’ I say to the boys. ‘I could show it to you if you like. Here, Max pass me the iPad and we’ll have a look.’
There’s a short debate about whether he’ll be able to carry on with Minecraft afterwards and then he hands it over and we open the official NaNoWriMo site.
‘Look,’ he says as we click through it. ‘You can earn badges. Cool! And I can help you set up your profile. I’m good with computers.’
‘Me too,’ says my youngest who’s just learned how to operate a mouse. ‘And you can read us what you’ve written every night. I’ve finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Your book can be my new bedtime story.’
I kiss the top of his head and don’t mention I’m planning a serial killer novel.
‘That’s good,’ says my husband now leaning over my shoulder to look at the screen. ‘Seems like there are lots of online events you can take part in to get you ready before it starts.’
It’s not quite, ‘go girl!’- but I am getting the go ahead. The thing is, the questions they raised before are still valid. I hand back the iPad to my son and wonder if I can do it.
‘Did you know when it started only 21 writers took part,’ says my son- amazingly still on the NaNoWriMo site rather than the Minecraft app. ‘And last year 167,150 did. That’s epic, isn’t it?’
Yes it is, I think. And I want to be part of it. If I get up an hour earlier every day and work in the evenings I won’t have to sacrifice my family time. If I set myself daily targets I’ll stay sane.
‘And if all those other people can do it, so can you, Mum,’ says my youngest finishing my thought.
I look round at the smiling faces, my cheerleaders, and I smile back.
‘Come on,’ I say. ‘Who wants to help Mummy set up an account?’
Victoria Slotover has written for The Daily Express and Ham & High newspapers and her short fiction has been published in lit mags and anthologies both here and in the States. She recently won the Full Stop Short Story Competition and has just completed her first novel, a crime thriller about a man who in battling his demons and ends up becoming one himself.