Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo or Why My Nails Are Blue

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. In accordance, in a total departure from my personal style, I have painted my fingernails a bright blue and they will stay that way until I hit the goal.

This is not as completely random as you might think.

Several years ago, I participated in a writing workshop where the instructor talked about transference. You can take some small object, hold it and concentrate on the feeling or emotion you want it to represent. In this case it had something to do with motivation to write. I chose a round, flattened blue glass rock, about an inch in diameter, the kind you might use in the bottom of an aquarium. It was a deep blue color, somewhere in the spectrum around sapphire, cobalt, and ultramarine. There's a paint color for the Ford Mustang called Kona Blue Metallic.

(On a side note, we also tried this technique in a weight loss group meeting once. The leader passed out some pretty rocks and told us they were to represent willpower. Unfortunately, my rock was the color of milk chocolate. Epic fail.)

I left the little blue rock sitting on the base of my computer monitor, and every time I looked at it, I felt guilty that I was not spending more time writing. At that time, I was working full time from home doing medical transcription. It's a job that requires sitting for 8 hours a day in front of a computer, listing to doctors' dictations, and typing as fast as you possibly can, with 100% accuracy. It was both mind-numbing and complex. Most days, by the time I finished my regular hours, the last thing I wanted to do was keep typing. I barely had enough functioning brain matter left to decided what to make for dinner. Sometimes I could scrawl a few hand-written pages in the evening.

I felt the talent I had been given was a "use it or lose it" kind of thing, and it was slowly slipping away. Sometimes I would try to write and nothing happened. Finally, I reached a crisis point. I was driving myself nuts. Something had to change and I was afraid it meant giving up writing. I knelt at my desk chair and prayed for something, anything, that would help me know what I was supposed to do. When I looked up, there was my little blue rock. But the impression that came into my mind was different this time. It was, "It's okay. Don't worry. You've still got your talent. It may take a while, but it will happen."

But that wasn't the end of it. Suddenly, wherever I went, I saw that color blue, or something close enough to it to remind me of the answer to my prayer. A highway sign, a box of Band-Aids, somebody's dress at church, a Christmas ornament, the tarp covering a pile of firewood, a sign at the grocery store. "It will happen."

The whole section from teal to blue to purple has always been my favorite part of the color spectrum, but now I have a special affinity for MY blue. I've even started collecting cobalt glassware and Blue Delft figurines.

So that's why, when I decided to do NaNoWriMo this year, I painted my fingernails with the closest match I could find to Kona Blue Metallic. "It may take a while, but it will happen."


  1. I love your story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love this story (and I love cobalt blue glassware, too!). You inspired me to paint my nails, too—yellow to be covered with silver sparkles, since that was all I had on hand. Plus I've wanted to paint my nails yellow forever.

    Thank you for sharing. Sometimes our dreams do feel so far away when the pressures in our lives take over, and it's great to hear that you're able to pursue your dream now. Good luck with Nano!

  3. What a wonderful story. I thought about you painting your nails for the month, and all I could wonder was how you kept them blue--and still had time to write. My nail polish chips really bad.

  4. Way to go Marta! After my dad died I wore his ID braclet for six months thinking it would inspire me to finish a book about Alzhiemers. Eventually I took the braclet off because it just made me feel guilty and not inspired. I'm glad you have something to inspire you!!!!

  5. That's awesome Marta. I love that color, too.

  6. Funny how it takes something silly or special to get us inspired. Whatever works! Good luck and thanks for the post.

  7. Love the blue! I actually owned a Mustang this exact beautiful my son has it. Wow, great memories.

    Good luck on nnwm.

  8. Thanks for the comments and encouragement, everyone!