Monday, November 10, 2014


I am not participating in NaNoWriMo.  I really wanted to do some sort of extra writing this month in honor of the event.  The (short-lived) plan was to write a thousand words a day and get my WiP to 60,000 words by Thanksgiving.  That would have been great.  But I'm not doing that either.

I have many excuses.  Many reasons to share with you that will explain why I am not, cannot, and even should not, write that much in the next few weeks.

Some excuses are good excuses and most excuses are bad excuses, as everyone over the age of three knows.  Feel free to join me in sifting out the legitimate excuses from the balderdash that follows:

Excuse #1:  My free subscription to the Online Oxford English Dictionary will expire in May when I graduate from college.  I will not be getting a subscription again in the forseeable future because it is outrageously expensive for private individuals.  This is the dictionary that allowed me, a few moments ago, to look up the word "balderdash" and learn not only that I was using the word correctly, but also that scholars appear to know almost nothing about its etymology--a fascinating fact.  Clearly, I should be spending my spare moments this November learning new words from the OED, because words are what writers write with in the first place, and come May I won't be able to learn any new ones.

Excuse #2:  November is the worst possible month in which to write an entire novel.  This month was clearly chosen by someone who was either living rent-free in an attic somewhere or imprisoned--and certainly not by a college student because if you are a college student, there is only one month worse for writing than November.  That month is April, and it is worse not because you have any more work to do than you do in November, but because Christmas is much farther away.

Excuse #3:  I have read so much Latin, ancient Greek, medieval English, and scholarly prose in the last two months that my own prose style is positively in flux and my normal sentence structure, which is at the very least shorter than all this, has been replaced by long, convoluted sentences in which I attempt to arrange words and ideas in ways that no sane twenty-first century native English speaker would arrange them.

Excuse #4:  I am a human being with all the normal limitations that accompany humanness.  Among these is a need for sleep.  I could easily write a novel as a college student in November if I stopped sleeping.  Also, just to address the well-meaning comments I can hear welling up from the hearts of coffee drinkers:  so far my experiments with caffeine have made things worse, not better, to my chagrin.

Excuse #5:  The word "chagrin" comes from the French word chagrin and can also mean "rough skin."  Similar words are found in Italian, Venetian, and Turkish.  The relationship of Turkish to Indo-European languages is a fascinating thing, by the bye. 

The fantasy shelf in a Turkish bookstore in Izmir.

Excuse #6:  I have friends and I like them and I want to see them sometimes.

Excuse #7:  The general business of things has caused me to neglect social media to the extent that my Twitter feed has basically become intermittent explosions of @LeVostreGC retweets.  (See my Twitter feed in our sidebar for a recent example.)  As everyone knows, a strong social media presence is how books get written and sold these days, so I would be better off spewing a few extra 140-character-long witticisms into the internet than adding words to my manuscript.  

Excuse #8:  I am busy learning.  Tyler-Rose had to write up a fake writer's bio for me a month or two ago, and in it she wrote that I "studied Latin and life" at college.  I really liked that line.  It's really true.  I am devoting my time here at school to learning how to use language, how to tell stories, and how to begin to understand the basic subject of all stories, human life.  It's a privilege (one I earned with a lot of hard work in earlier stages of my education, but still a privilege) and a blessing, and I would do well not to squander it.  These years of concentrated and purposeful education are going to be one of the main reasons why I have things to write about.  So I should probably do what I'm here to do, and write just as often as I can, and not worry so much about things like NaNoWriMo. 


  1. Excuse #9: If you were doing NaNo, you'd never have written this blog post, depriving the rest of us of the whimsical joy of reading Excuses #1 - #9. Words and whimsy = the very heart of NaNoWriMo! You're a guardian of our ideals.

    1. And proud to be so, for they are good and merry ideals indeed!

    2. You are just so wonderful, Deshipley.

  2. I'm sooooo not a NaNo girl… I've learned that I work better at my own pace… and when I do NaNo, I'm only pushing out crap words… nothing I reuse later. Glad I'm not alone in this!!! :)

    1. I think it was a good exercise, but once was really enough for me. And I never ever EVER want to look at that manuscript ever again.