It was Thursday, November 29th. I had been furiously tapping away at my keyboard throughout the day, using every single moment available to me to get more words in. The deadline of NaNoWriMo was looming, just over 24 hours away. I had to get there. I was determined to get there. The day before, I went as far as using dictation on my phone during my drive to and from work to get an extra 4,000 words in. It was glorious. I was excited. Despite missing four to five days of writing, reaching the 50k of NaNoWriMo was within reach and, as it happened, besides a field trip with my son the next day, I had more than enough time to finish my writing on Friday, November 30th.
That was before Friday happened. To be precise, 8:29 AM on the morning of November 30th. I had just gotten into the car when I felt a strange vibration. At first, I thought the engine of the car was having issues but when the whole car started moving back and forth, I knew we were having an earthquake. A 7.0 earthquake. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when my wife called that I realized how severe it had been. 45 miles away, in Anchorage, buildings were being evacuated, alarms were blaring and aftershocks rocked an already shocked city. A normal Friday morning turned into a moment in time we’ll never forget.
The first hour was pretty much a blur. Dozens of phone calls to relatives near and far, calls to the schools to check on their status and so much more. Then, how do we get everyone home? Rumors of collapsed bridges and overpasses, cracks in the highways and impassable roads were prevalent. It was hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Without true information, knowing what to do next was fraught with uncertainty.
As the morning went on, more reliable information began to trickle in, and the extent of the damage, and to an extent, the lack of it, became more clear. While several highways, bridges, and roads had severe damage, for the most part, the southcentral part of Alaska had escaped catastrophic damage. My wife eventually made it home and we hunkered down at home.
Two and a half days later, we were all still on edge, our hearts racing at every unexpected vibration in the house. Aftershocks were frequent and for the most part small enough that we couldn’t feel them. Except when they were not. Despite this, the second night after the quake, we managed to sleep fairly well.
As the workweek rolled around, it became abundantly clear that getting to work was going to be a challenge. Although the Alaska Department of Transportation deserves praise for repairing much of the critical damage, aftershocks continued to disrupt and as a result, one of the critical commuting highways is still as I’m writing this a patchwork of detours that doubles and even triples commuting time in both directions, depending on when you leave. Although I’ve been fortunate to be able to stay off the roads, I know not everyone can and sitting in traffic four to five hours a day is mentally exhausting. It wears on you.
As the week has progressed, it’s also becoming apparent that the damage is worse than initially thought in some areas, affecting schools in particular and by extension, hundreds of families. So although we were fortunate, the road to recovery will still take a while.
As far as my writing goes, well, as you can imagine, I didn’t make 50k within the month of November. In fact, I haven’t written anything except this blog post since then. I actually tried yesterday. I figured I’d give my story a shot before bedtime but the words just wouldn’t come. So, I’ll give it a few more days.
Regardless, even though I didn’t win, I know that I would have. Also, my stopping point on Thursday was only about half-way through the story. 50k wouldn’t have been the end of the story anyway.
Anyway, for now, my focus is on other things but hope to get back to writing soon. Until then, I probably have one of the more unique reasons for not finishing my NaNoWriMo story:
I was sidetracked by an earthquake.