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Sunday, November 30, 2008


Last Minute: NaNoWriDay

Book in a Month, by Victoria Lynn SchmidtNovember, as this blog has trumpeted before, is National Novel Writing Month. A month during which participants — namely, anyone who wants to — dash out just under six pages each day during the thirty days before December 1st in a mad, high-energy attempt to get 50,000 words down on paper. One hundred and eighty pages may feel like pretty short for a finished novel (some middle school teachers wouldn't let you write a book report on anything less than two hundred), but over the course of a hectic November, it can seem like an unattainable vastness.

I had grand plans to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, as I have a novel furtively buzzing in my brain, and wanted to put some first draft down on paper before too much time passed and the raw inspiration thinned out into just another faded dream, evaporating under the cold glint of dawn. But while I had plotted in late October to hunker down the following week and at least start the project, it wasn't until well after the seventh of the new month that I remembered my schemes and saw that I was already twelve thousand words behind schedule.

So I scrubbed my plans, and vowed to try again some other year. But really, who picked November for this thing, anyway? Why not February? Nothing happens during February anyway, save for the deepest, darkest exhibitions of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which always turns the shorted month into the most interminable. I bet I could write something the length of Crime and Punishment whilst huddled in the grey depths of February. No distractions, no warmth, just the chilly comfort of the clicking keyboard... that's the way to emerge from the long, dark winter of the soul.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-word memoirs by writers famous & obscureIn any case, if you, like me, were moved to participate in National Novel Writing Month, but never got 'round to it, I'm offering you a cheap and easy alternative: National Memoir Writing Minute. On this last day on NaNoWriMo, take a minute and write your memoirs in a mere six words. A new collection of six-word memoirs has just been published, Not Quite What I Was Planning. According to NPR and the Daily Telegraph, Ernest Hemingway was bet that he couldn't write a complete story in just six words, and he won the wager with the following evocative sentence: "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn." Smith magazine, an online journal, solicited writers for their six-word memoirs, and Not Quite What I Was Planning contains 8,000 selections, featuring jokes, quips, thoughtful pauses, and briefs from such well-known individuals as Dave Eggers, Aimee Mann, Stephen Colbert, Joan Rivers, Lionel Shriver, Chuck Klosterman, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Check out the following links for examples, or simply construct your own. We hope to read your concise life stories in the comments... even if you don't get to it before the end of November. And as for my own wistful contribution...

"Me? I want what is over."

+ Daily Telegraph - A Life in Six Words?:
+ NPR - Six-Word Memoirs: Life Stories Distilled:
+ USA Today - Famous Writers Sum Up Their Lives:
+ BONUS: "This Song's Just Six Words Long" by Weird Al Yankovic:

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