Monday, December 12, 2011

Where are you, Daylight?

As most of you know, my husband & I recently relocated to Seattle, Washington.  We are still both out of work, so we've just been trying to hang in there and keep up hope that God will provide jobs for us, especially my husband Eric. 
But, despite our financial and job woes, we still absolutely LOVE living in the Seattle area!  The winter weather here is not nearly as cold as Ohio winters, which is such a huge blessing!  I had grown to abhor the bitterly cold Ohio winters, where it was so incredibly cold that it physically hurt to step outside.  Forget trying to actually DO anything outdoors in the winter!  It was simply too cold to spend any length of time outside.  But not so here.  Don't get me wrong; it still gets down in the low 30's here, but there's hardly ever any wind, and the sun has been shining a surprising amount lately, which helps immensely! 
The above picture was from a summer visit to the Seattle area last summer, when we drove to Mt. Rainier National Park.  This amazing valley view was along the way, and we pulled off to the side of the road to absorb the amazingness of the view.  Do you see that little blob in the upper left-hand corner of the shot?  Yeah, that's a helicopter.  Just so you understand the coolness captured in that moment.  :)
Here in the Pacific Northwest, in the winter, the sun sets at around 4:30 in the afternoon.  Yes, you read that right.  Four-thirty in the afternoon, folks.  In Ohio, the winter sun would set around 8 or so, but here, it sets almost four hours earlier!  The sun sets before dinnertime!  I'm not gonna lie; it's freaky as heck!  That is just something I will have to get used to, I suppose. 
I do wonder, though, if native Pacific-Northwesterners realize how utterly insane and unnatural it is for the sun to set that early.  In most of the country, the sun sets in an actual "evening" hour, like 7, or 8, or 9 o'clock at night.  But here?  4:30pm. 
But it IS normal for this area, and I think I understand the basic reasons:  it all has to do with the angle of the sun in the sky viewed from the Pacific Northwest.  Because this area is so far north, the sun never rises very high in the sky during the winter months, so it does not take much for it to drop back down below the skyline in the evening.  *Sheesh!*  It's weird, right????
Oh, it gets better.  In the summer months, the sun rises at around 4 o'clock in the morning.  That is freakishly early!  But at least that makes it so that the sun does not set until freakishly late, like around 10pm. 
From a Midwesterner's perspective, there is some FREAKY weather goin' on 'round here!!!
And from the point of view of someone who desires to be productive, that means that there are very few hours in the day of sunlight.  Very few hours to get stuff done that you want to get done, especially if it means being outdoors, driving, or needing the sunlight to help you stay alert and focused. 
This absence of sunshine constantly reminds me that life is passing me by and that I have only a limited time to be productive and do the things I want to do.  It's a very "Carpe Diem" mindset, I know, but I appreciate it because it keeps me motivated to "seize the day" and make the most of my time, and live in the moment, and all that jazz. 
I hear Robin William's husky voice whispering in my ear from over my shoulder, "Carpe Diem!  Carpe Diem!" 
**(extra coolness points to whoever knows what movie I'm referencing!)**
As I finish this post, it is 4:15pm, and the sky is darkening.  "Goodbye, Mr. Sun!  See you tomorrow!"  :) 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Novel is Finished!

Okay, now that I've got your attention talking about a finished novel and all that, let me clarify. I participated in NaNoWriMo (for the first time ever!) this month of November, which happens to be "National Novel Writing Month." I finished and "won" by meeting and slightly exceeding the 50,000 word limit, submitted by Nov. 30th at midnight. I actually finished the evening of the 29th, almost a full 24 hours before the deadline! Go me!
Now, as it is with NaNoWriMo, they call any text submitted to their website that is at least 50,000 a "novel," and all the authors of such texts "authors". I do not know if I can be quite so liberal with those descriptions, because anything written during November is typically just a very rough draft of a short novel. Fifty thousand words is tough to punch out in a month, but would make an awfully small book by most standards. So, even though I am a writer and would perhaps even call myself an "author", I'm not sure I would call what I wrote this past month a "novel" or not.
I mean sure, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it even had a relatively coherent storyline with acceptable dialogue that advanced the plot. And to craft this document, it required a month full of 5-hour writing sprees, locked in the office by myself. It required me to become slightly anti-social at times, to depend probably a little too much on coffee, and my back is still tight from sitting in my not-so-comfortable desk chair for the majority of the month of November. But is it worthy to be called a "novel?" I guess it depends on the definition you're using.
And I think there is something even more important than debating if my novel is really a "novel" or not. What's more important is to decide whether or not it was worth it for me to have participated in this literary experience. And the answer is a resounding "Yes!" It was fun, it was brutal at times, it required lots of sacrifices on my part, and it forced me to tap into creative stores I did not think I had. And it was SO WORTH IT! If you did not participate or if you did not meet the minimum 50,000 word requirement, I encourage you to try again next year, because it will be worth it, I promise! Happy writing!