She sat across from me at the local coffee shop, checking her phone, looking around as we “got to know each other.” I was the new gal in town and since it wasn’t my first rodeo, I was out there doing what I do best or at the very least what I know I need to do to acquire that sense of belonging in a new place. I was reaching out to a fellow mom, a local, in the hopes of finding that one friend that can instantly take you from outsider status to outsider with a friend status.
We discussed the move, the re-locations before this one, the kids and all the other usually safe topics that come up in polite conversation. In some ways, it was like the job interview I didn’t see on my wall calendar that morning as I stood in the kitchen, coffee in hand, making sure I didn’t forget my kid’s project or overlook a dentist appointment. I recall finding it strange when she glanced up from her phone to ask me what I was into in high school. Both in our late thirties, I didn’t see the relevance of her question given that neither one of us was likely the same person we were during the most terrifying, unsettling, and awkward four years of a person’s life. Nonetheless, I happily chimed on about being athletic, a cheerleader, class secretary, etc.
In the midst of my recounting my nose always having been in a book and how many of my friends were with me from kindergarten through high school, she suddenly glanced up and said, “Oh, you’re a joiner.” I paused mid-sentence, “Excuse me?” She repeated, “You’re a joiner” and went back to her cellphone. I sat in silence for a moment, not exactly sure why I felt offended by her nonchalant comment.
Truth be told, all the activities I had mentioned were clubs of some sort. Maybe it was the way she said the word “joiner” that made it sound like a negative thing. Maybe it was because as I had gotten older, I had begun to take pride in being my own person, standing up for my beliefs and following my passions no matter what other’s opinions might be. Maybe it was because the last thing I now saw myself as was a “joiner.” Instead, priding myself on being more of an individual. Maybe it was just the way she said it with such conviction, as though she had me all figured out. Then again, maybe it was because I didn’t want to admit there might be some truth to it.
This week is the first week of something called NanoWrimo, National Novel Writing Month, which is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1st. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30th.”
This mother of two, wife of one, writer and weekly blogger, crazy lady who should be committed, instead committed to this challenge because keeping the house clean, the laundry done, and getting back into my regular workout routine with my new personal trainer isn’t enough. Apparently, I need more!
Cry for Help: I’ve lost my mind. If found, please return immediately as I’m going to need it to complete this novel and, you know, other stuff in my life.
The thing is ever since this summer when my husband and I decided to enroll the kids in school instead of continuing to homeschool them, I’ve been saying I would use the “free” time to write my second book, a novel. Somehow, I never find that “free”time to dedicate to it. So, when the NanoWrimo talk started last month my “joiner” wheels started spinning. An actual goal, a commitment to join the masses all working toward a similar goal, complete with pep talks by famous authors and a community of support every step of the way. By the way, I was giddy to find a letter from James Patterson in my inbox discussing the importance of outlining my novel before beginning. I took your advice Mr. Patterson, thank you.
So, yeah I guess I am a “joiner” but right now I don’t see it as a negative thing. If being a “joiner” means being a part of something bigger alongside some amazing writers and sharing in the highs and lows of pursuing a dream, completing a project, reaching a goal, then color me a “joiner” and let me be.
If it means on those days when - I’m struggling to get my kids off to school on time, not in their pajamas, with more than a pop tart and glass of recently expired (but not so expired as to be dangerous) milk, all while mentally kicking myself in the butt for believing for two seconds I would be able to pull off coherent sentences with only the creativity found in the bottom of a second cup of coffee, let alone write a complete novel in a one month period – I will log onto my NanoWrimo community and find that others can relate and share in my self doubt and misery, then I’m proud to be a “joiner” and will shout it from the rooftops!
Bring it on “joiner” haters!
I’ll be the one with the
completed semi-completed novel (depending on how much “free time” I have) at the end of November.
“I’m a joiner! He’s a joiner! Wouldn’t you like to be a joiner too? Be a joiner! Oohh be a joiner! (sung to the Dr. Pepper jingle)
Are you a joiner?