Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mass Hysteria

Last week we were studying the history of Halloween in my Humanities class, and we watched a History Channel film which pointed out that the ritual and traditions surrounding Halloween make it okay to decorate your lawn with severed body parts, for example. The fact that a lot of other people are doing it makes it not only okay but even kind of cool.

There have been a lot of posts this past week about the NaNoWriMo—how and why once a year a whole bunch of people all jump in and do this crazy thing: commit to writing a 50K word novel in just thirty days. The notion of telling the inner editor to shut the hell up for a month is one great reason, of course. But I think the idea that a lot of other people are sharing the experience with you, at the same time, makes this crazy idea not only okay but also really cool.

When I first heard about it, I was like, November is just too busy a month. They should move it. But then I realized that as a teacher with more than one job, there is no such thing as a non-busy month. It might as well be November—and in fact I’m guaranteed to have two days off, then, and even though I’ve got some extra shopping to do, and at some point a turkey pan to clean, that’s still not nothing. Now, on my third NaNo (one win, but fingers crossed for this year) I’m starting to appreciate the fact that the event happens ever year, at the same time—a ritual that a lot of us participate in. Not because we have to, any more than it’s required that every American put a plastic zombie on their front porch. Those of us doing this illogical and busy-life defying feat are in it because we love stories. And win or lose on the word count front, we are all part of that process this month.

This year I’ve talked my AP Lit class to participating along with me. We have spent two class periods noveling, everyone engaged in his or her own silent work, but we were still all part of a group, all working toward the same goal—a completed story. I’m not sure how many of us will make it to the finish line, but I really believe that writing the first novel is the only way to become a writer of novels. I still plan to revisit and revise my first book (which I finished a long time ago) one of these days—but even if I never do, I credit that book with teaching me how to write.

It’s also how I learned how to type really fast.

For everyone out there with a full-time job or two, with kids, dogs, cats, papers to grade, home improvement projects—with no time to write—in November: write anyway. There’s never going to be a non-busy month. There will never be enough time. Write anyway.

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