Monday, July 24, 2017

Write a Book in a Month

...also known as NaNoWriMo, here in the US. I am sitting on my new kitchen window seat with an eye on the coffee machine as it brews vinegar water. The bad thing has been overflowing and spitting coffee all over the counter for a week now. Time for action. My window seat? A chair that was still in the sunroom, even though its entire back had come off. Someone had stuck a cushion on it anyway and must have used it when we had too many people per chair around the table. I was about to take it out to the curbside, when I thought how perfect it would be as a temporary window seat. So, voila. I have a lovely view out the front window AND I can supervise the brewing. Besides the holes where there used to be rungs, which is covered up by the cushion, it is really still a pretty piece of furniture...hmmm, not sure it deserves the distinction of being called "furniture." 

This is a post to introduce our at-home writing adventure. I have wanted to take the NaNoWriMo challenge ever since I heard of it. Who wouldn't? (Don't bother to answer that, please.) One, insane month of writing like a madman to meet a looming deadline of 50,000 words; due or die. The problem I created for it in the past, (besides having a million other excuses), is that the traditional month for it is November, and November is way too busy for me, personally. So, I began once, and promptly quit, saying I'd do it in January or February. But January is the beginning of the "new semester," and February is too short. Then it's March and spring is coming and the world starts to look like a place we'd like to be out in again. Now, August...August is a miserable month in my book. Hot. Humid. Is there anything else to say? August is a perfect month to sit inside and write together.*

After reading "No Plot, No Problem," I knew I could no longer ignore this book-writing calling that has been with me since I was 12 and attended my first Young Writer's Conference. In the paraphrased words of author Chris Baty; "I always thought I'd write a novel. I just thought I'd be 80 or so, full of life's experiences, and the whole thing would come to me in one piece, which I would dictate to my personal assistant or secretary, and it would, naturally, be a work of great genius."

In addition, I firmly believe that writing is a skill which everyone needs to develop, or at least every child under my tutelage, in school or not. I was originally going to have summer writing goals for each kid under 18, because, even though it is called "Honors English," I am not convinced that writing for one semester a year constitutes a  habit frequent enough and strong enough to ensure success. The block system used in our schools means kids get one or two "blocks" of each subject per year. There are four blocks in a year. (One semester of a foreign language also makes no sense to me...but that's another topic.) 

When Thierry expressed interest in accepting the challenge with me, I knew this could be a really cool family project to work on together, rather than daily homework and me making up lists of things to read and write about. For Gael, I did purchase a writing idea book that he is in love with; "642 Things to Write About," Young Writer's Edition, by 826 Valencia. Charles and Valentine can write about whatever they'd like, though with the summer's adventures, I think they each have something cool to get down in writing for posterity. Last night was the first date; our time is 4-6pm, and there were three of us here and two more on the road, writing in notebooks. We had snacks; special fizzy water, nachos with melted cheese and cookies. I was planning on having Gael dictate his writing to me beforehand and letting him copy it, but Valentine came up with a much more brilliant plan. She handed him her phone and he was able to take down and copy his own dictation. First night went well! Apparently, week 2 is the one to get through. 

* I DO realize that it is still July, but we have to get around the fact that our public powers that be chose to begin school on August 24 this year, which made me feel that it would behoove us to finish, have a party to celebrate, and recover from the last days of mad writing, a few days prior to starting school for those of us who may be doing so this year. (It is still up in the air for all concerned, Valentine really just wants to go back to Guatemala, and Charles is wondering if junior high would not take up all of his building time.)

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