I consoled myself too with the prospect of NaNoWriMo: every year, tens of thousands of writers worldwide indulge in (inter)National Novel Writing Month, the aim being to crank out a 50,000 word first draft in the space of a month. For the last two years, I've been on holiday and in the midst of another novel in November. Not this year. Maybe this was the year to give it a go.
When it turned out I could go to DC after all, I was not, initially, as excited as I would have expected to be. This concerned me - was it some kind of sign? It took me a little while to realise that I was, in fact, disappointed to be missing out on another NaNoWriMo.
And then it dawned on me: why are travelling and NaNo mutually exclusive? Particularly when my next novel, like my first, is going to be a doomed love story set in DC, and DC is where I am going?
This may be the best, or the worst, idea that I've ever had. But I've got a week in Washington this time, and I've taken the obligatory photos, done the obligatory tours, stood in the street where Josh threw snowballs at Donna's window (though I still don't know which house number it was - anyone?). I have time, in other words, to set aside a couple of hours a day to sit in a coffee shop and scribble in my notebooks. I also have plane journeys and train journeys.
And one of the best things about NaNo is its communalness (this is where I wish, not for the first time today, that there was a decent English translation of the word convivialité). People meet in cafés and bookshops and write together. Not much in Belgium - and the ones that do seem to be Dutch-speaking. This is one aspect where being in the US will work for me. Maybe.
NaNoWriMo requires stringent self-discipline, and I hesitate to be unrealistically harsh on myself and force myself to write 1,667 words a day on holiday - particularly in the 36 hours I have in Philadelphia and the four days I have in LA. But I have signed up to those NaNo regions just in case. The write-ins may actually be just the nudge that I need to keep me going at least every other day. And if I get ahead while I am in DC, I may not need to be too stringent.
By the time I get back from the US, I should have 25,000 words of a novel written - perhaps more, because I know from experience that jetlag makes me useless for a good few days after I get back (and to make it more complicated still, I then have a trip to the UK for a wedding.) I have no idea if it's going to work. But I'm certainly going to give it a try. I don't want to wait another year.