For most Kenyonites, November is significant mainly for the monstrous piles of homework and exams that stand between them and Thanksgiving break. For a valiant group of Kenyon writers who have stepped up to the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, November is the month that puts their writing chops – and their sanity – to the test.
For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual event for amateur writers. The goal: 50,000 words between midnight on November 1st and 11:59 PM November 30th. Luckily, Kenyon participants have a built-in support system in KWC-WT, the campus creative writing collective.
Jameyanne Fuller ‘14, president of KWC-WT, said that the group has several events throughout the month to support novelists and keep them excited about the process. “November is the time when we all get slammed with papers without letup, so our goal is to create a supportive environment where writers can challenge themselves in any way they choose and still have fun,” she said, adding that KWC-WT writers are not obligated to do the full 50,000 words required by the official NaNoWriMo website.
In addition to events, KWC-WT keeps an email thread in which participants report on their word count and last line written each day and a “plot jar” that contains slips of paper with random plot points to hep participants overcome writer’s block.
Claire Smith, ‘16, is using NaNoWriMo as a chance to start the novel she’s been planning since the summer. “It’s a dystopian, sci-fi-ish kind of thing,” Smith said of her novel, noting that she hoped to write 25,000 words by November 30.
Karen Aston, ‘16, is continuing her fantasy novel, which began as a NaNoWriMo project last year. “Last year I did the full 50,000 words, which was fun but insane,” Aston said, “I did nothing but write for the full month.” Aston hopes to add another 25,000 words to her already 273,000 word novel this month.
Andrea Odegaard, ‘14, has taken a slightly different approach, setting a goal of writing for a half hour a day rather than assigning herself a word count. “I’m not a ‘let’s get to X word count’ sort of person, as that kind of goal makes my characters go on strike and I get writer’s block,” Odegaard said, adding that the goal also helped her to fit her creative project in around bouts of research for her comps.
Not all writers have such lofty ambitions. Camille Bourret ‘16, Thrill writer, has a goal of writing a single word a day. “It’s been pretty crazy so far, lots of furious writing”, said Bourret, adding that she will not plan her novel, but will write whatever “grammatically correct word [she is] feeling that day.”
So far, Bourret’s novel reads “Herbert leapt amongst.”