As November begins, I find myself thinking back to 2004 and 2011, respectively. November is National Novel-Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it’s more cleverly known. In each of those prior years, I took the challenge to write a novel first draft of 50,000 words or more. The first time, I finished with a few days of the month to spare, and the second time, I finished with one day to spare. In both instances, I was working full time (the former as a services coordinator for people with developmental disabilities and the latter as an English professor), yet I made the choice to write between 1-3 hours per day.
I mention all of this because as November 1 neared, I considered trying this challenge again. I remembered the fun I had in those two Novembers, immersed in two different stories, in two different locales, at different stages of my life. Neither of those drafts have progressed to a second draft (which is another story, or, really, two stories), but the 2011 manuscript is one to which I do plan to return. Perhaps during the summer of 2015, I might take a go at it, since I did at least begin a second draft.
But for 2014, I decided against doing NaNoWriMo, not because I wouldn’t enjoy it or couldn’t complete it, but because I felt the call back to poetry, and decided to create my own discipline for November: draft or revise one poem per day. The busyness of the academic semester is intensifying, and stanzas are more manageable than paragraphs right now. During the forty days of lent, I drafted around thirty new poems, so I figured I was about due for another concentrated period of poetry writing.
Besides, since the school year began, I’ve already written first drafts of 5 short stories, and multiple drafts of a creative nonfiction piece. By my count, that’s about 20,000 words. However, there’s nothing like the pressure (and delight) of the poetic line. And with the most demanding time of the school year approaching, I take great comfort in zeroing in on images, on the sounds of words, on the play of sentence across and against lines. I am returning to that first literary love.