please assure me that i am not the only one who sets potholders on fire

I am not referring to a singular occasion wherein one might have done this. I mean regularly. I mean every pot holder that makes its way into the house.

You do this, too, right?

The smell of a burning potholder is quite familiar to me. I was recently on the phone with a friend and cooking pasta at the same time. (I am really good at multitasking.) I smelled something distinctly not food-ish and knew it immediately as the scent of burning polyester. I calmly removed the flaming potholder from the top of the saucepan where it drooped into the gas flame of my stovetop, ran tap water over the small blaze and never missed a beat of the conversation. Boo-yah! I can burn stuff and do other stuff simultaneously.

So, I have a confession—for the first time in 4 years of participating, I quit NaNoWriMo before I hit 50,000 words.


That is the amount of words I managed to write between November 1 and November 22. Yes, I did some writing on Thanksgiving, before the big dinner, in between cooking it and eating it. Then afterwards, as I sat by the fire pit in my parents’ backyard, drinking a nice glass of wine and chatting with my Dad, I looked up at the clear, cold, starry sky and said, “I am quitting NaNo this year. And I am totally okay with it.”

(The little loops, too. No part is safe.)

Usually, I push and push and push. And when I am exhausted and spent and seemingly at my limit, I push further. (Then I am usually somewhat difficult to be around. Just ask Steve. He is nice and might lie and disagree. But trust me on this one.) So rather than go down this old road, I decided instead to try to recapture the joy.

Nothing (aside from the gracefully shared, unbridled happiness of my children) gives me more joy than writing. And the joy was gone. I was pushing through it. And this is a novel I have nurtured for a long, long time. A story I really love. And the joy was gone. Replaced by a drive towards a self-imposed deadline.

NaNo is nothing like setting potholders on fire. More like putting the fire out? No, not like that, either, exactly. Actually, maybe it is like setting potholders on fire—frenzied writing for 30 days. I guess I smelled the familiar odor of burning polyester and threw that fire in the sink. That’s okay. There is always next year. And more potholders, too.