Hands up who’s doing NaNoWriMo?
Wow, good on you.
Now, hands up who signed up for NaNoWriMo and is yet to write a word? Oops, is it just me? That’s embarrassing.
I have used every excuse in the book so far, much to my own disgust. The only thing that is preventing a total shame spiral is the fact that my ‘novel’ of sorts already has 40,000 words to its name. But that’s not really the point, is it.
How is everyone else going with NaNoWriMo? If you’re not doing as well as you hoped, feel free to compare yourself to my hopeless attempt and thus feel better about yourself. If you have kept up with NaNo, I send you a huge congrats and a couple of enthusiastic virtual high fives. If you have only managed to write 100 words, but you are thrilled with those 100, then count yourself a success. You’re doing great. If you have yet to write a word, join me in a commiseration glass of wine. There, that feels better, doesn’t it.
November is a huge month, no matter which way you look at it. We are gearing up for the summer holidays over here in Australia, so that means digging out those old bikinis and reinstating those old gym plans. November is also the slippery slope towards Christmas, the month where you begin the budgeting and the planning and the arguments over who is organising the ham this year. Christmas decorations have been for sale over here since mid-October, so there’s just no forgetting that mother of all holidays. At least we don’t have Thanksgiving to organise in the middle of it. I don’t know how you guys do it. Superhero’s.
I just discovered something awesome about November the other day, while aimlessly sifting through the blogoshere. Rick over at Another Book Blog has come up with a fabulous reading challenge, the pleasantly alliterative Novellas in November. Rick suggests that the novella as an art form is slowly dying. He says,
No one is reading them, no one is writing them, but at least one person – this November – will be celebrating them.
He puts forth an excellent argument as to why we should be supporting this particular form of writing; it is well worth popping over to his blog to check it out. He includes some great quotes, one of which I am shamelessly appropriating here:
The demands of economy push writers to polish their sentences to precision and clarity, to bring off their effects with unusual intensity, to remain focussed on the point of their creation and drive it forward with functional single-mindedness, and to end it with a mind to its unity. They don’t ramble or preach, they spare us their quintuple subplots and swollen midsections.
– Ian McEwan.
I was thrilled to stumble upon this challenge, as it ties in superbly with my own goal of making November A Month of Steinbeck. I am reviewing the latest works by Thomas Steinbeck, all of which happen to be…you guessed it…novellas. I reviewed Cabbages and Kings a few days ago, click on the link to check it out. The novella is available now through Amazon, so why don’t you kill two birds with one stone, and celebrate Novellas in November and A Month of Steinbeck in one hit.
In the spirit of A Month of Steinbeck, I suggest you watch this interview with Thom where he speaks about the four novellas I will be reading and reviewing. It is a fantastic insight into the books, and a fantastic insight into the man behind the words. He says of the works:
They were meant to be light entertainment, I mean they all had morals to them and they all had things to say beyond just the punch line of the book.
But the part of the interview that I found most endearing is the following statement:
There are a lot of things I want to say, but I find it’s much easier to put it in somebody else’s mouth, which is why I think I write to begin with. I think I’m too self-conscious to stand up in front of an audience and say these things.
I was immediately reminded of his father John Steinbeck in these words, a man who had so much to say about the state of the world yet preferred to say it through his writing rather than through some public forum or arena. I am so glad to have discovered the work of Thomas Steinbeck, a man who is fast approaching his father in terms of my ‘homeboy’ status. Please see this post if you have no idea what I am talking about.
So, whatever you’re plans are for this November, I hope you will set aside a little bit of time to delve into some novellas and some Steinbeck appreciation with me. The lead up to the festive season can be so hectic, sometimes it’s nice to put the demands of the world aside for a few hours and read a good novella.
And if you are working your way through NaNo, think of it as research. Anyone who can sit down with a laptop while waiting for guests to arrive and churn out such novellas as these is probably going to be pretty decent inspiration.
Happy NaNo, NovNov and Steinbeck month.