Life is full of difficulties and delights. Dreary days can become cheery days, and even serendipitous days can become sad ones. In November, as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) progressed, I experienced some of these moments. Kudos to ProWritingAid who provided a wonderful place to record progress, find regions and communities, and buddies for the journey. Facebook communities and these buddies encouraged each other’s progress, spurring us on to finish the challenge.

The goal for the month, write the first draft of a novel—50,000 words in thirty days—quite a feat. Before the first of the month, I decided that taking off weekends, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving, with my love, was the best choice, for, although we both work from home, Kevin works 10-12-hour days, so our time together is valuable to us.

The month started well and within the first week, 8,550 words covered the first two chapters. The following week, I doubled that number, and well into the story, changed the name of the book from “From Here to Your Shore” to “Your Sweet Melody.” Coming into the third week, my throat was sore and Kevin felt ill as well. My numbers lagged, but I ended the week with over 25,000 words. I knew then that the 50,000 goal flew out of my reach. But, sometimes I challenge myself to do more than I can handle. Taking ten days off meant writing 2,500 words a day. I write methodically, re-reading and editing as I go.

The NaNoWriMo team encourages writers to put their creative caps on and wait until December to edit. My mind doesn’t process that way. I tried but just couldn’t help myself from going back and correcting errors and adding content.

As the fourth week began, we received news that Kevin’s stepmom, Peggy, passed away. The rest of the month blurred with my tears as I pushed toward 30,000 words, a more realistic mark. With two days left of the month, I closed the lid of my laptop and gave Peggy her grieving due—my brain on overload.

Some people are plotters and plan out their entire novel before the first word finds its way to chapter one. Others, like me, are pantsers and let their story unfold as they write. Life twists and turns as the plots of stories. You wonder when the next shoe will drop or when an unexpected thrill may come. Though November revealed life’s tenacity and trials, it’s thrilling to say 29,546 words are nothing to sneeze at. My protagonists are lovable and my antagonist is menacing—the plot realistic and romantic. Each scene makes me want to turn the next page.

Gratefulness comes in many sized packages. Grateful for the gift of a novel-writing challenge, though unfulfilled as warranted, I will finish one day. I’m thankful for the years of happiness Peggy brought to our family. Most of all, I’m grateful for the gifts God gives—family and friends, food, clothing, and shelter, talents to use for His glory, someone to love, and salvation through His Son, Jesus. Life is best with a grateful heart.

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