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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

No "NaNovember" - IWSG November 2023


Welcome to IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to November co-hosts: PJ Colando, Jean Davis, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diedre Knight. To read posts from other contributors, click here.

November question: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

I love to scene storm. I get a kick out of writing a snippet around a required sentence or word. When I'm stuck for an idea I can compose a scene based on a photograph. Even when I stare at a blank page with no idea what to write I can usually come up with something readable. But writing fifty-thousand words toward a novel over the course of a (typically busy) month feels like an overwhelming challenge. Perhaps I’ve given it a passing thought but I’ve never seriously contemplated participating in NatNoWriMo.

For me, November isn’t about putting my head down and getting all the words out. November means hauling away the blanket of rust-colored pine needles coating the bottom of my driveway. It’s hickory nuts pinging off the garage roof, skittering down the slope and the pop-pop as cars hit the nuts that make it to the street. It’s about the turkeys who camp out at the edge of my yard, pecking at the smashed results. November means rare days when the afternoons air can still be warm. I return to a cold house after work and open up the windows to let the outside in before the sun sets early and the furnace kicks on. November means mornings when I gaze left as I drive down the street, hoping to see the reflection of burnished foliage on Lily Pond. When I’m lucky, I catch the rising sun burning off whisps of fog from around huge rock in the middle of the water. So many mornings I yearn to stop and take a picture. So many times in the past I have, but more often I don’t because I cut my five-minute commute too close.

November means pumpkins and candles and on weekends, the distant chatter of the announcers from the high school football field a mile away. It means ignoring the oak leaves drifting down because they won’t drop in earnest until after the first frost, and these days I have to school myself in patience. Back in the day, I dragged full tarps into the woods while my husband raked. Cleaning up our leaves was a grueling four-week, two-person operation. These days, I pay for a lawn crew to clean them up but they won't arrive until after all the leaves have dropped sometime well past Thanksgiving.

Ah yes, Thanksgiving. November used to mean methodically prepping for 20-30 people at our house for the holiday (another excuse not to do NaNo). We wrote chore lists for three weeks before, two weeks before and then daily “to-do’s” during turkey week. On T-Day those lists were timed to the hour. Now it means a simple food assignment to prepare ahead before driving to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s home, which happens to be the house where my brother and I grew up. Last year I went the night before and we all sat around their kitchen island prepping and talking. Other than the fact that being away from my home for a holiday Tim and I hosted for more than 30 years felt like an out-of-body experience, it was a lovely, joy-filled day. This year there will be newlyweds and also a new baby, and like last year, I expect after eating we’ll take a long walk around the town where we grew up. I’m looking forward to it.

So no, November has never meant NaNo for me and my guess is it never will. November means (ignoring leaves while) paying attention to the things I like about the season. This year, it brought an (early) bonus – which was this opportunity to write about them. 

See what I did there? I scene-stormed using the word “November.”