NaNoWriMo-ing It Up

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's that time of year again, kids! NaNoWriMo!

This NaNoWriMo badge incorporates all of my favorite things: computers, books, paper, travel...sunny places. 
I'm super excited that I get to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year because it's been awhile since I've even been able to attempt it. For whatever reason, the founders of NaNoWriMo chose November as the month dedicated to all things novel, which also happens to be one of the worst possible months for a grad student to try churning out 50,000 words of coherent prose. When I was taking classes, November was the time of research and seminar-paper writing. Last November I was done with coursework, but I was frantically memorizing names, dates, and theoretical terms; using my best detective skills to find info on little-known texts I hadn't had time to read (oops); and racking up frequent-buyer points at Starbuck's as I prepared to take my PhD comprehensive exams. On top of that, I had to fly to Pittsburgh and present a paper at a conference, and then there's that whole holiday thing, where, if you are like most college students, you find yourself taking off to visit the fam for a few days. So add up all of that + all of the normal teaching/work demands + the fact that November only has 30 days, and November quickly becomes the worst possible time of year in which to try to write a novel. 

But this year is different. Yes, November is still busy. I'm headed to New York in a couple of weekends, and then down to Huntsville to the in-laws for five days at Thanksgiving, plus working/teaching full-time, but I'm at the point in my studies when I can put my dissertation on hold for a month and just work on my novel. Maybe that isn't the most responsible thing for a struggling dissertation writer to do, but it darn sure makes me happy.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of flying south to attend the second annual Auburn Writers Conference, founded by the amazing Chantel Acevedo, and it was just the kind of writing pick-me-up I needed to remember what I really want to do with my life and that I need to make writing more of a priority in my life. I met so many great authors (including the hilarious Joshilyn Jackson and the delightful Victoria Schwab), sat in on some wonderful workshops, and had my writing bucket filled to the brim. I returned to Pennsylvania feeling happier and more complete than I had in months. I don't want to lose that feeling. I want to act on all of the resolutions I made to myself when I was sitting in those workshops, and NaNoWriMo is where I'm going to start. 

A few days after the conference, Chantel released her new YA novel, Song of the Red Cloak (which you should buy immediately!), which she composed during NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. It wasn't the first time she'd attempted NaNoWriMo, but it was the first time she finished it (you can read the story of how she wrote Song here), proving that if you have the right story, 50,000 words isn't as impossible as it sounds. This year, I think I've found the right story. For the next month, I've written "Write 1667 words" at the top of each day's agenda. I've got my pencils sharpened (and my laptop charged), the new Florence + the Machine album downloaded, and a stockpile of orange-cinnamon tea. 

Bring on November 1.


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