I’ve probably told you before that I don’t love NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a lot of reasons.
Not the least of which is that they set it up for November which is, in my humble opinion, the shortest month of the year.
Yes, I am well aware that February has fewer days (28) and there are three other months with a mere thirty days (September, April and June), but November is qualitatively shorter than those other months.
February is winter’s last gasp so it feels good, even when it’s snowing; September and June both benefit from sunny days and long, warm evenings; April has those spring showers that we all know will bring May flowers and thus has a positive, upbeat attitude.
What has November got? In most of the country, grim, miserable days of rain, endless clouds and temperatures just above freezing; darkness when you wake and blinding glare at rush hour; sunset around 4:30 p.m.; trees stripped of their leaves… in short, a recipe for depression and hibernation, not bursts of energy and creativity.
And what else does November have that those other months don’t? Holidays and family demands. Where I live, the kids have Veteran’s Day as well as a full week off for Thanksgiving, on top of the usual Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t know about you, but I can’t write when my kids are home and interrupting me every three seconds (and yes, they are 12 and 14 but still incapable of understanding the simple words: “Leave me alone.”) This year, the month of November had only 15 days of school in total.
And we haven’t even mentioned the big turkey looming at the end of the month. In some years, we travel back East to visit family and friends for about ten days, so writing 1000+ words a day during that time is pretty much out. In the years we don’t travel, a good chunk of that week is spent preparing Thanksgiving dinner at my home: cleaning, planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning some more (the silver doesn’t polish itself, you know), cooking some more, serving, enjoying and then cleaning up from the big day. Let’s call it the better part of four days. Maybe five.
And what happens the day after Thanksgiving? Let’s all hit the ground running with holiday shopping, decorating and planning!
So do you see why I think this is the stupidest possible time to try to do this? What’s wrong with January? It has thirty-one days, only one day off from school (MLK day) and once you pack away all your holiday stuff, you have absolutely nothing else to do except pay bills. Great reason to write a novel: escape reality.
This year, though, the four of us in my writing group wanted to capture some of the spirit of NaNoWriMo and use the collective energy to push us forward with our writing. One of us wanted to try to write her first novel (she was victorious!). At her urging, I decided I would finally try to give one of my mostly written novels a good once-over: this YA historical needed to be pounded into shape, given direction and about another 25,000 words. Half of NaNo’s 50,000. I figured I could do that, even with the 10 day trip back East at the end of the month and only 15 school days.
You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much in recent months. Let’s just say this hasn’t been a year full of sunshine and flowers for me and my family, and a lot of that stuff came bearing down even harder in November. Of course it did, because I had a plan.
The best laid plans of mice and men…
I feel like I shouldn’t have goals, because they only become a means by which to measure my failures.
I will finish that book. It won’t take too long, either, once I get back to it. I accomplished more than 5,000 words before I had to quit.
It will probably have to wait until 2013, though. Maybe January will be my own personal MaryanneNoWriMo.