Wednesday, November 11, 2009


by Elizabeth

I guess I should say something about National Novel Writing Month. Like, I'm doing it. Boy am I doing it. And was there ever a worse month to start?

My mother, two of my sisters, my mother- and brother- and father-in-law all have November birthdays, not to mention two nephews, and one of my kids. Thank goodness my parents are divorced. A brother and brother-in-law stretch out the month with early December birthdays. Rebels. And did I mention Thanksgiving?

My November starts on the day before Halloween. I realize the 30th of October is clearly not November, but when my doctor told me my first child was due the eleventh month, I figured I was in for just one more thing. Surprise, labor and the baby came three weeks early--even so, that was too late to keep from being lumped with the November marathon.

So this year it was already bad enough with the whirlwind of a slumber party followed by Halloween and the next day expect to spit out 1667 fresh new words by midnight. But then we had a medical emergency (everyone's fine, just one of those things), and I spent good parts of Monday and Tuesday at the hospital. Meanwhile, I had to plan for slumber party numero dos riding in fast. Somewhere in there, I had to tote kids to after-school activities galore, oh, and everyone still needed to be fed. (Can you believe the nerve of that?)

So not a great month to start NaNo. But you know what? I did it. As of Monday night, I'm at 14,244 words, slightly behind schedule, sure, but did I mention my week? I'm also thinking I'll double up (okay, time and a half it) during the retreat this weekend, so I'm pleased with my progress so far, and I think I'm going to make the 50K word goal by month's end. Even more, I'm pleased with the story I'm unfolding. Sure, it's a first draft, but the exercise in just plowing ahead is getting its message across. Which is great. I really think the point of NaNo is to teach us something new, to change up how we do things so we can do better, to help us realize that it's okay to write just okay. Greatness can come later. It worked for Jane Austen.

Here's the thing, too: is there ever a good time to start something as daunting and challenging and structured as NaNo? What if it were next month, instead? Oh, the holidays! Or March, with spring break and school activities in overload? Summer is summer, September gets the year rolling for parents with kids in school--there's never a good time. So why not November? And you know what? Pile it on. Sure, I'm busy. Sure, I'm staying up late writing, exhausted and sometimes drooling on the keyboard, but the key word of this sentence is a verb, active tense: writing. I'm writing.

I'd say that's worth the marathon. Oh, and if you're reading this and owed a gift? I'll get to it. But I have some writing to do, and I'm going to do it.


  1. Way to go. I'm jealous of your word count! I'm only at 9,566 as of this moment. Oops, back to writing.

  2. I'm jealous. I'm at about 1/14 of what you've written, but then again, I'm not doing NaNo. Thank God, after all the illnesses in our house in the last month.

  3. I'm somewhere between Joan and Elizabeth, but happy with that and also looking forward to bumping it way up this weekend.

    Elizabeth, the point you made is exactly what I've heard the organizers of NaNoWriMo say: "Why NOT November?" Writers write, whether it's January, March, July, or November. People in other careers don't get to choose which months they are busiest -- it just happens.

    I think the lesson here is learning to sit in the chair and do it, no excuses.

    (But dang, you DO have a lot of birthdays in November! Nine months after Valentine's Day ... hmmm .... :)


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