National Novel Writing Month


It is 1:23 a.m., the early morning of November 1st 2009. At the long desk in the living room of our rented Central Valley California house, my husband sits beside me. There are three dogs asleep on the couch behind us. Down the hall, my eldest sister is typing quietly on her laptop while the cat sleeps on the bed behind her and her fish has hunkered down in his castle for the night.

I am writing this here and now because I committed, less than two hours ago, to writing 1,700 words a day for thirty days. To be fair, I did this while in the middle of a bout of bagel-making, which renders me susceptible to visions of superpowers.

My sister, the one down the hall, is writing a novel. Her third for NaNoWriMo. I have begun my share of novels, but never managed finished one and while various friends have slogged through their own National Novel Writing Novembers, I have never given myself over to the process, nor am I technically doing so now. Mostly, I want to prove to myself that I can still write and honestly, the first step in doing so is giving myself the right and a reason to write again. Both of those things are important and difficult.

Committing to support my sister’s intention to write a rough draft of her novel in the space of one month (at approximately 1,700 words a day) by committing to write the same amount every day feels like an enormous commitment, as these days,  I find it difficult to commit to anything at all.

317 words in, the time change comes and we take a break for bagels. In the middle of the night, in the middle of California, on the border between October and November in the worst year of my life, my sister and I slather cream cheese on still warm chunks of sun-dried tomatoes and discuss plot and characters and such things until it is time to get back to work.

In theory, at the end of this new month, we both have a stack of pages filled with rows of words; hers, a neatly ordered novel, with plot and character development and all these nice twists and turns. While mine, well I have no fucking idea what they will be. Hell, I only committed to this three hours ago under duress, and in the glow of bagel-making in the middle of the night.

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3 Responses to National Novel Writing Month

  1. Bullish aka 'your sis' says:

    Like a great episode of our new favorite television show Modern Family, this piece made me laugh and cry all at once.

    Thanks for writing with me this year!

    Love you bunches,


  2. dan says:

    writerly impression: this is a very good start for anything you wish to write. If anyone says it’s not “complete” or “connected” you can point them to these first words and say, “It’s like a bagel, asshole – there’s a HOLE RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE, but THEY’RE STILL DELICIOUS.” Then slather them with cream cheese and cut them the f in half.


  3. Elizabeth Roberts says:

    I don’t even know why I’m crying reading this, but I am.

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