Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My First Time: Michelle Gilliam

My First Time is a regular feature in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands. Today’s guest is Michelle Gilliam, a Registered Nurse and the author of Roman Rescue. She began writing poetry, flash fiction, and short stories in 2003, but it was the gargantuan task of a novel that thrilled her the most. She has three sons and spends her time with biological and church families, watching her sons’ college football games, traveling, and not least, reading and writing. Roman Rescue is her first novel. Michelle lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

My First NaNoWriMo

My first participation in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Montha challenge to write 50,000 words in one month) helped me get started on my novel, Roman Rescue. Attempting to write 50,000 words, creating a character, and building scenes is challenging. But not nearly as hard as taking care of three boys, getting them to their football practices at 6 p.m., and then picked up at 8 p.m., bathed, fed, homework completed, and tucked into bed all by a decent time (it was probably 10 p.m., later than I would have liked). After that, I would sit down and try to write 2,000 words. I have to be honest, I skipped some days, but when there were no football days, I would write 5,000 words. Some days you just can’t get it done. Those you love and care about have to come first.

So what was I doing all day? I’d just started going back to college. I quit my nursing job and went back to school full-time. My goal was to be out of school and complete my homework everyday by 3:30, so school would not take away time with my family. But when I decided to do NaNoWriMo, it interfered with that goal and I had to get my husband on board. So essentially I watched no TV for one month (which was quite freeing). I only wrote at night, not to interfere with the boys’ schedule or school. Since it was only a month, my husband was very supportive. By the end of the month my writing friend and I had both hit our 50,000 words and the beginning of Roman Rescue was born.

No matter what we attempt as mothers: getting a house sold, going back to school, working full-time, or writing a novel, we should feel free to dream big. If we are not sacrificing our love for our familyinstead putting the burden on ourselves, sacrificing sleep, TV, or even foodthen we need to go after our dreams and teach our children to do the same by actions and not just words.

My boys would work out to that song, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Well, I use some of that weight-pumping motivation to work out my brain and leap out there and try. If you don’t try you can’t ever fail. What? Yeah! That’s right. As Ed Catmull, President of Pixar said. “Failure is a necessary part of learning.”

We are not born into the world knowing everything. Once we become adults, we don’t magically know it all either. It continues to be just like the first step in walking, first you have to pull up and get off your butt. With a little help from my friends (I love that song), they pushed me to pull up. I hope you find the strength today to do just that. No matter what your dream is, and when you fall back down, do it again.

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