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Sunday Reflections: My NaNoWriMo Month

sundayreflections1It’s official: I just validated my word count and am now a 2015 NaNoWriMo winner.

And you know what? It was hard. Especially this time of year, when the holidays are ramping up and my kids were getting sick and my work schedule got all wonky. But I did it. And after validating my novel, I realized that one of the teens in our library’s shared NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program classroom had validated hers earlier today, and a second is only about 1,500 words away from being done too.


So now I’m wiped out and I’ve got a list of projects to start and catch up on that’s about as long as my arm, but I’m proud of setting the goal and sticking to it all month long. I got in the habit of writing, of carving out that time–tired though I might have been–to work for a little while each day on it. I’m hoping to carry this over into other projects I have too: other craft projects, home improvement projects, spending time with friends, or just sitting alone in my room reading a book. It sometimes felt selfish, or frustrating, or fruitless to be spending so much time working on a largely self-serving project, but you know what? Everyone survived. The house isn’t any messier than it was on October 31st (well, maybe it is a little), the kids are no less engaged, and I found that taking the time (not finding the time; you have to take it) to work on my own project is an ok thing to do.It’s ok to take that kind of time for ourselves. More than that, it’s worthwhile, even if it never goes anywhere.

There’s more to say about NaNoWriMo, but I’ll be honest, folks: I’m done writing for the day. It’s time to take a break and celebrate (and let’s be honest: do laundry and play catch up on that stuff that I set aside and need to get back to now).

Good luck to all you WriMos burning the midnight oil to get your count in (the @NaNoWordSprints feed helped me immensely!) and to anyone who didn’t do it this year, or thought about it but postponed, or who started it but didn’t continue, I hope next year is your year!

5 Minute Booktalks: NaNoWriMo Edition by Kearsten

Did you, like me, start November with a bright and shiny resolution to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days for National Novel Writing Month? If so, I certainly hope you were more successful than my almost 7,000 words. November got too crazy a month for me, and I ended up abandoning my lonely little manuscript after only one week. In an attempt to inspire myself to do better next time, I put together a list of teen books in which writing plays a role – and maybe you’ll be inspired to begin a writing journey of your own!

Pemba’s Songby Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegamin.  When Pemba moves to a small town in Connecticut, she’s furious with her mother for forcing her to leave all her friends behind in Brooklyn, and can’t imagine anything will be as exciting as what her friends are doing without her. But then Pemba starts seeing a face other than her own looking back at her in her mirror. A sad-eyed woman calling Pemba, “friend”. Encouraged by an older neighbor, Pemba begins researching her home’s history, and then the life of a female slave who died there. As she learns more, she records her fears, frustrations and loneliness in song lyrics and verse:  “it’s the city symphony/ I’m wishin’for, rockin’me like a harmony.”


Terrier (Beka Cooper, Bk 1) by Tamora Pierce. If you’ve heard or asked for writing advice, number two (after read, read, READ), is usually something along the lines of  “write every day”. The easiest way to do this is to keep a journal, just like Beka Cooper, in  Pierce’s beyond-awesome fantasy series. Beka’s a rookie Provost’s Guard, and requests the toughest part of the capital city of Tortall as her “keeping the peace” training assignment – after all, it’s where she grew up. Beka’s world is one of nobles and street toughs, magic users and thieves, and she must use all her abilities to survive her first year as a Guard in the training yard and the streets, even if it means telling others what pigeons tell her about the dead…
Breathing Underwaterby Alex Flinn. Nick’s dealt well with his father’s rages….or so he thought,  until the day his relationship with Caitlin, his dream girl, gets violent. Court-ordered to keep a journal and attend counseling and anger management classes, or else go to jail, Nick begins writing down his “truth”.  Don’t you want to know how a guy goes from loving his girlfriend’s smile so much that he “wanted to put it in his pocket to look at over and over”, all the way to a restraining order? This one is dark and distressing, yet a story that needs to be told and read.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. When T.C., Augie, and Alé began their freshman year, not one of them figured it would be life-changing, but as they each describe that year as part of their junior English essay project, their stories of love, discovery, baseball, sign language, and Mary Poppins unfold in delightful, witty detail.  Kluger’s writing style is unusual and fun, and he lets Alé, T.C. and Augie tell their stories through essays, Instant Messenger, email, musical theater cast lists – even on Secret Service letterhead. The likelihood of your getting through this book without falling in love with at least one of these characters is highly unlikely.

No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. Okay, so you want to try this writing experiment again and you refuse to be deterred, eh? Why not try this funny, non-fiction guide to writing a novel in one month, written by the creator of NaNoWriMo himself? Baty includes writing tips on location, setting, character development, plot ideas, and, most importantly, the best ways to teach your friends and family how to guilt and harass you into finishing that novel – with love, of course. The book guides you through weeks one through four (making this helpful in November, but in all the other months as well!), and, should you discover that you’re one who can persevere, No Plot? No Problem! also has suggestions for editing and getting published.

Now, get reading and writing!  You don’t have to wait until next November 🙂

5 Books written by Teens:
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater Rhodes
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley