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Writing Material

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Phew, we got that out of the way.

I'm thankful for so much. It's been a year full of so, so much change. You know that old cliché/John Lennon lyric, "life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans?" For the first time in a while, I thought my ducks were in a row. But breakups happen, unforeseen challenges arise, so on and so on. So let's let life happen. For better, for worse, for the sake of feigning a positive attitude until things settle down a bit in my little world – I'm thankful for it all.

But that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about writing. Feel free to read a previous Oy entry about my coy, difficult, ultimately wonderful love affair with writing. An article about writing again, you say? Well, this is different. I promise you.

In the spirit of letting go of the old and creating something new, I had lofty goals for November. November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Some people want to run marathons. I wanted to write a novel. Sigh, just the structure of that last sentence gives off the stench of defeat. Yeah, I didn't write a novel. But I wrote nearly 20,000 words. That's something, aye?

The concept of NaNoWriMo is perfect for the most fledgling of writers (aka, me): spill out 50,000 words from the recesses of your mind. That's it. Commit pen to paper, tablet, laptop, your recorder of choice. Editing is for later. Discerning judgment is for later.

I came to into November with a few loosely connected ideas that I wanted to shine up into a real-live story. I signed up on the site (NaNoWriMo.org), I received encouraging emails. In a word, I was pumped.

My favorite part of the process? Discussing possible plots and story ideas with my family. I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time. I uncovered my father's secret ambitions to write a spy novel...who knew? My mother's ideas for a Disney-ish fairy tale were more imaginative than anything I conjured up. I soaked it all in and as November reared its head, I sat down to write.

These emails I spoke of? Many of them consist of pep talks. Based on past and current professional experience, I'm used to writing every day, and if not every day, on a pretty consistent basis. However, committing to 1,500-plus words a day, after getting home from my communications-based 9-to-5? Call me lazy, call me whatever you want; I lasted about a week until I decided that writing a novel in a month might not be in the cards, at least not this November.

Maybe I'll train better next year. At a recent get-together, a friend brought up that her boyfriend was taking on the NaNoWriMo beast this year. I implored further: Does he have a story? What got him into it? She relayed enthusiastically that this was the first year he really decided to get serious about it. He bought a special notebook to plot out his novel ahead of time. All bases were covered. I squirmed when she told me after the first week that he inexplicably lost about 2500 words. Technology! Strangely enough, I felt a part of this community, even though I was taking a more languorous approach to novel writing. I may never get there. But the idea of it, of continually turning to my ongoing story and adding a little something new, keeps the fires of one my greatest passions alive.

My childhood friend Steph always refers to less-than-ideal, kooky life events as "writing material." Reflecting on this past year and everything that makes me grateful (and everything that makes me cringe), I've tried my best to fill it with "writing material" moments with people I love, adore and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgivukkah, everyone!

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