There are only 4 days left until November, which is NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH! Yay!
Every year, I encourage students and faculty at Indian Creek to join in NaNoWriMo. There are plenty of reasons to try to write a novel in 30 days:
- Daily writing can be cathartic/exciting/inspiring
- Doing NaNoWriMo is a good way to purge your mind of all those stories that have been building up for the past year
- Giving your inner-editor a month-long vacation may be difficult, but it’ll allow your inner-creative-director to really shine
- You will enjoy such pride when you complete a month-long commitment to yourself!
If you have any desire to write a novel, try NaNoWriMo! It’s a low-stakes challenge that can help you unleash your inner-novelist, bring you closer to other writers, and make you look super impressive to your friends and family.
The Upper School Library will be celebrating the beginning of National Novel Writing Month with a Kick-Off Party on Monday, October 31, from 3:35 to 4:35. Hope to see you there!
- Thou shalt write EVERY DAY. Even if it’s only a few words and you know that you’ll have to scramble to make up the lost words tomorrow, get words written TODAY. Is your computer broken? Use a pencil and paper! Don’t have pencil and paper? Download Dragon on your phone and speak your novel!
- Thou shall not erase ANYTHING. No erasing, no rewriting! Endeavor only to add words to your novel, not subtract. You can edit when November is over!
- Thou shalt set a reasonable word count goal. If you want that coupon code from FastPencil, make sure that you set your word count goal for something achievable! Sit down for an hour, see how many words you can write, and then multiply that number by 30. That’s your word count goal. Easy! Most young writers set their word count goals between 10,000 and 30,000 words for the month. What’s right for you?
- Thou shalt not peek over the shoulders of other writers. Don’t try to read someone else’s novel without their permission! It’s distracting and rude!
- Thou shalt take breaks at least once an hour. Sitting for too long, even when you’re on a tear, is not good for you! Get up for five minutes, grab a drink of water, jog in place, or step outside. You might even see something that inspires a chapter in your novel!
- Thou shalt update your word count. Watch your word count grow and grow! Constant progress will inspire you to new heights of writing greatness!
- Thou shalt not criticize your own writing. That’s your inner editor talking, trying to get you to doubt your obvious writing skills. Don’t listen!
- Thou shalt not criticize others’ writing. Be supportive of your fellow writers! Cheer them on, ask them questions, give lots of compliments! Then, when they ask you to edit their novel in December, go crazy with the red ink (respectfully, of course)!
- Thou shalt not shirk your responsibilities. Make sure your priorities are straight: homework, friends, novel. Or friends, homework, novel. But novel comes last.
It’s day 6 of National Novel Writing Month! How are you doing so far? Do you still like your characters? Do you know what’s going to happen next? If you need help (or emotional support), come visit the library! We have writerly books to inspire your writing, a writer’s emergency pack, and other sympathetic writers! Or visit the Young Writers Program for author pep talks, the Dare Machine for helping you get over writer’s block, and other great resources for writers. Happy noveling!
In less than one month, friends, the library will be hosting our first ever Creek Reads Book Club! I’m very excited for this new program and I hope that we get plenty of students participating in what will surely be a really fun hour of discussion about the book 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger. If you haven’t read the Creek Reads blog review of this book yet, check it out here.
In short, this awesome novel takes place in near future India, where boys outnumber girls by a ratio of 5 to 1. In the walled city of Koyanagar, Sudasa is now marrying age and that means that she must judge 5 boys who are selected to compete in the Test to become her husband. Sudasa does not want to be married – for her, marriage is simply another form of enslavement. Kiran, one of the boys competing for Sudasa’s hand in marriage, is also scornful of the Test and the society in Koyanagar. As the Test progresses, Sudasa and Kiran try to break as many rules as possible, usually to the detriment of the other’s plans. Told in alternating chapters of verse and prose, this novel raises questions about gender roles and stereotypes, the consequences of greed and the misuse of power, and the value of choice.
During the book club, we’ll be joined by the author, Holly Bodger, via Skype! Holly hails from Canada and 5 to 1 is her debut novel. She’ll be present on the big screen to answer questions about her book and the writing process. If you’d like to join the Creek Reads Book Club, please grab a copy of 5 to 1 at your local library, bookstore, or download it and come prepared to discuss! Any and all NaNoWriMo participants are also welcome to join to discuss writing and publishing with Holly.
The Creek Reads Book Club will meet on Wednesday, October 28 during Advisory. Please sign up in the library to secure your spot – there are 20 seats available! Be sure to ask your advisor for permission to attend the meeting beforehand.
If you asked me to choose one word to describe Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, I would have to choose dreamy, which is fitting because the story is about Le Cirque des Rêves, The Circus of Dreams. Morgenstern has created a world of magic and mystery inside the Circus, and she has populated it with images that most people only see when they sleep.
The dreamy quality of this novel is entirely due to Morgenstern’s talent for description. You can smell the hot caramel popcorn mixing with the smoke from the blazing bonfire in the middle of the circus; see the twinkling lights of the entrance tunnel and the stark black and white striped tents; hear the sharp intake of breath by every circus visitor as they enter the Menagerie Tent, populated with hundreds of softly rustling animated paper animals; feel the chill and the softly falling snow in the enchanted Winter Garden; taste the anticipation as the Illusionist appears suddenly on a stage in the middle of a ring of chairs. Morgenstern has the ability to bring her readers into the Circus and make them rêveurs, Dreamers, followers of Le Cirque des Rêves.
The Circus is not merely the setting of the story, but also its main character. You watch it grow and flourish, and feel the pain of anticipated loss when you see that is it in danger. Morgenstern takes care to make sure that her readers are entirely taken in by the Circus itself. But what of the people who are responsible for the inception of the Circus, who perform within its striped canvas walls, who create its magic and wonder?
The people in this story leave something to be desired. Where Morgenstern excels at bringing the Circus to life before our eyes, she fails to bring her characters to complete fruition. Perhaps the problem is that there are just so many of them. A quick tally of the major players brings the count to nine, which is a lot of people and a lot of individual stories to keep track of in less than 400 pages. In spite of the great number of characters to keep up with, this is not a quickly moving story. This is not a story of epic magical battles, nor is it a tale of burning love. If you are in the mood for a fast-paced story or a great deal of character development, look elsewhere. However, if you are the kind of reader who longs for an escape to a place completely out of the ordinary, with a little intrigue, romance, and suspense thrown in, this might be the book for you.
Fans of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants; The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis; His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman; or someone suffering a little nostalgia for the magic of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter might enjoy this novel.
If you’d like to hear Erin Morgenstern talk about drafting The Night Circus during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), click here.
Originally posted on Feb. 3, 2012 on http://www.indiancreekschool.org.