Now that December’s halfway over, I suppose I can take a minute to stop chasing down students for missing homework (all this teacher wants for Christmas is a nice, tidy gradebook!) and give an update on my November Nanowrimo goals.
Update may not be the best word—it’s more of a confession.
For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, “NaNoWriMo” stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. I’ve participated three times now. I won my first with a full 50,000 words. I won my second, thought I’d adjusted the goal to 40,000.
This year…this year I lost. Failed. Flopped.
As I said when I set my goals before November—30,000 words in the form of three pieces of short fiction—I knew that I was going into NaNo challenge tired. I thought I’d still power through it, but between the temporary death of my laptop (it’s better now!) and other life complications, I did not.
Ugh. While I didn’t have any huge projects that I desperately wanted to get done, I DO hate admitting a failure!
On the bright side, I did make over 18,000 words—I don’t know if any of them are useable, but I’ll dig through them at some point.
On the brighter side, my students, who are the ones that drove me to take the challenge on this year, did an amazing job.
My second graders made over 5,000 words. Not bad for a dozen 8-year-olds, many of whom aren’t huge fans of writing in class. Several worked at home, and several created some great stories and essays.
My 5th and 6th graders made over 50,000 words. As a class, they earned a party day and several individuals made over 5,000 words, earning a new pair of fuzzy socks and a doughnut. 🙂
My 7th and 8th graders had the same incentives as 5th and 6th, and they also rose to the occasion. I had to take one student out of the class word tracker, because she’d made over 50,000 within the first week, and I wanted the others to have to work, too! They didn’t disappoint—two students beat my total, and several were in the 5-6,000 range.
I had wondered what the effects of “Covid school” would be on our Nano Challenge. Last year, we had scheduled time to write in school every day. This year, with only half days for each group of kids (so that we can socially distance and disinfect between groups and all of that) the vast majority of this writing was done on their own time. I was so impressed by how many students took to the challenge and it was a joy to see how proud they were of their achievements!
One of those achievements was the opportunity to embarrass the teacher. Like last year, I promised that if they made their classroom goals I would dress up as an animal of their choice for their class parties. Each group voted, and after the tally, I got to spend 6 class periods dressed up as a blobfish. (Why couldn’t it have been a mammal?) Eventually, I figured out how to rig up a passable costume with a fitted sheet and a built- in mask.
For better or for worse, another year of NaNo has passed. Maybe next year inspiration will find me and I can claim another win. We’ll just have to see! For now, I’m going to direct my creative energies towards Christmas cookie creations.
What about you? Did any of you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you had any writing or reading wins or losses of late?
If you’re interested in some free WWII Christmas fiction, the Second World War Authors Group of which I am a part just released this: