November Isn't Working For Me... And It Never Does -- Dianne Pearce
I live in the USA. Here it is NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). *sigh*
I never make NANOWRIMO work for me. And that bums me out, because it is a thing formed to help people finish their novels, and Finish Your Damn Novel! is the phrase I coined when I formed my first writing workshop, because many people need support to finish a book, and I was hoping that hosting a group would give that support to me, as well as the members in it.
But NANOWRIMO is never something I can get excited about because it is in November.
I have been a college adjunct professor for a gazillion years. This means that, in November, I have literally hundreds of students who are trying to get their writing done and in to me to read and grade. Or needing me to help them get their writing together. Or, often, needing me to help them get their college app essays ready. When you're a full-time professor in the USA in the writing department your teaching load is +/- four classes/semester, for about eighty students. When you're an adjunct, between all the colleges you're secretly teaching at, your course load is more like ten to fifteen classes, and the corresponding amount of students at about twenty per class. I have even had colleges pay me more (heck yes, pay me more!) to overload a class from twenty to as high as forty-five. We're talking ballpark 250-300 essays, not to mention revisions, journals, etc. Write a novel too? Ha!
And then there is all the stuff that is part of November: Thanksgiving, Christmas prep, days off from school for the kiddos (my daughter is off today for Veteran's Day, and I am not, and then she is off the whole week of Thanksgiving, and I am not.), and it just eats up the time.
Why the NANOWRIMO folks, in their wisdom, chose November, I do not know, and, it's currently November, so I don't have time to research it. I would have chosen January. January is bleak in most of the country, and people hunker down, and there's nothing to look forward to after all the holiday madness except not spending money. And we're all resolving to do things in January, so why not a novel?
Every November so many people seem to crank out a novel that I despair that I am wasting my life as a writer. So many people have written so many books, and stories, and poems, and plays. And I worry that my life as an adjunct, which my teachers told me would give me plenty of time to write while financially supporting myself, has only given me a career as a tool of other writers. Those who can do, and those who can't teach, right?
Ultimately, like Popeye, I am what I am. I do what I do. And I truly love helping people finish their novels. And NANOWRIMO makes me question, every single year, if I have what it takes.
Do I have what it takes?
The question remains unanswered in my mind.
But I have loved helping writers write, from students who will never be creative writers, through all the people I have known who have finished their books. There is something about helping someone else craft something that is immensely satisfying.
So, NANOWRIMO, you remain a bus I just cannot get on. But I am hopeful that someday it will be my day to have finished my damn novel, and, along the way, I am so happy for all the people I have helped to finish theirs.
And, in our USA month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful that there are good books to read, and holidays to celebrate, and children to disrupt all our perfect plans.
If NANOWRIMO doesn't work for you, hang in there, and try again. I feel you.