November is National Novel Writing Month

Gifford Beal, Profile of woman reading, circa 1910-20, Conté, graphite pencil, and watercolor on wove paper; 9.1 x 15.9 cm (uneven cut). Gift of Gifford Beal Family, courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, 2011.

I was a writing major in college and have carried this vague, yet weighty, notion that some day, the bolt of lightning will hit me and I’ll be ready to sit down and write my great American novel. When I heard Fran Leibowitz in Public Speaking say, “There are too many books! … When Toni Morrison said ‘write the book you want to read’, she didn’t mean everybody,” I admit that I took this as a bit of relief. But yet, what about the achievement? Like marathon running, many people hold tight to the idea that they have a novel in them, they can reach that goal. That’s what National Novel Writing Month is for. By tomorrow at midnight, tens of thousands of people worldwide hope to have hit the 50,000 word mark, achieving the goal of producing a novel. Will they be published? Will they be in the window at Kramerbooks? Probably not. (Though there is a list of published NaNoWriMo novels.) But they’ll be able to say they did it.

Maybe next year I will try. There is something to be said about the environs of a museum and the creative flow of writing. Azar Nafisi and Julia Alvarez have both said in particular that spending time at the Phillips played a role in their writing process. At the doors of the library, I often find myself engaged with writers seeking a refuge in which to work. Have you participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo? Does a visit to a museum inspire you to write?

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