Cornucopia – Literary, Social and Everything In Between…

November as you probably will know, in fact is National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO – get it?  take a close look at the abbreviation and you will see how that works out) and I stare down a 7th year of participating, with two years of truly finishing a 50 000 word novel and this year – well so different.  Yet I found I puled some amazing self discoveries about myself, from living in Mexico, with me.  

It so different for me being in the states and participating in NANO after 6 years in Mexico, and why just not sure.  I still get this apprehension of “What am I going to write?  Where is this going?” that everyone feels and often feeling dejected about what I have written and despite trying to remove my inner editor, always having that editor sitting right there then easier than ever, gone.  

Yet, there is literally a cornucopia of things happening since I arrived in the states again, despite my best attempts to distance myself from all.   What I do see a connection with the role of librarian in the middle, and I feel that is the way it should be for all librarians all over the world.  Listing specifics, Homecoming, reviewing a collection of materials, discovering place in various cities to present how writing connections are supported from a librarian perspective, making connections and partnerships with students, community members, faculty members, discovering new ways to redefine what a library is by presenting relics of the past, connecting with Educator book nights, with Independent Book stores, established books stores, searching for funding for projects let alone books, discovering creative ways to obtain research materials in all forms (electronic, texts, databases), creating a new space in the library for Open Mics, meeting places, gathering places for student organizations, scholarship information, being a voice for change in the form of jumping right in to what students are jumping into – here we are at NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month).

NANOWRIMO certainly is a test of the self, a test of pushing yourself past the excuses you do not allow yourself to do the things you want to all year, but it is more than that.  The whole risk of putting yourself out there when so much ELSE is going on, of course there is never time to get everything you want done, there never is.  NANO always becomes a free pass to realize certain truths about yourself, and to ride out the doubts.  I can count on my hands how many times a WEEK I had doubting what I wrote was garbage, or how many times I LOST what I had been working on for a whole month and being reckless for not saving as carefully in places I should have.  THEN, I wanted all those words back that I lost.  I realized ANY words I think of – that I did not think of might not quite fit right now into a pattern, but it would down the road somewhere, so it is important.

Ultimately, we always find snags, and can’t figure out how to move on, yet having a mantra such as sure, you feel as if you are in a dead en right now, but what happens if I just walk away for a minute, let me mind wander, and simply write about the firs things that come to mind?  This is on strategy that seems to always work.

Also, I have found myself going to the very students I surround myself all day, and asking them hypothetical questions about topics I am thinking about writing, and usually those one word lists they provide trigger a path I could go with one of my characters, a setting etc..

Also, places.  Also as if I had nothing going on in November, we have an amazing return to a 5k HEROn and 5k series coming up in November 26th, adding to that an appointment to speak at the International Writing Centers Conference then a benefit at DogFish head, and oh yeah, there is that portion of November called Thanksgiving.  But wait, if you alway put all the things you NEED to do in your head, often there is NOT room for what you WANT to do, and that is the same with NANO.  No matter how packed a schedule is, I have always found it is VITAL to NOT abandon any creative options and kill what MIGHT be with thoughts of what you have to do, as soon as you do, you ‘clear the table’ and turn to your story.  Once you get over that wall of disbelief or doubt, you feel stronger, not only as a writer, but regaining confidence to simply get through things (sounds like life, eh?) I have found finding places to write, and breaking it up to be a different place every week sets a pattern of variety and also helps my writing ideas.

Connections, yes!  We are doing a 5k right this mont, right? So why not highlight the very nooks and private places that many people might NOT be aware of, ask them to be a partial donor to the 5k in the form of a gift certificate, and interview then and feature them for places to do NANO through YELP, and reviews of your own, while also featuring them for bringing more people to them AFTER NANO, and PR’ing them as sponsors of your 5k?   Being able to bring aspects together somehow and find a common bond that many would never see or think of, that is a partial art of teaching AND learning as well!

These are just a few tips that get me going through surviving when there seems to be already so much on my plate, and yet there is so much more to discuss.  As we head into an awareness of Social media week and how people use social media to its best benefit, you run into people that  just simply let their emotions, frustrations, and anger come out on social media and divides begin.  Yet the minute you realize this potential exists, you can better learn how to use social media to actually ease the frustrations you have rather than let the frustrations dominate you and let social media offend others.  The trick is, how do I use social media positively, not negatively, to cause a meeting of diverse ideas and opinions, without offending – but that is another blog post so stay tuned.

I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself the only one at a movie, at a restaurant or an event, but wanted to do something so badly, that was al that matters.  Such is the case with NANO, at your lowest, most difficult, to trying moments, you often feel alone when you set ambitious goals and have LIFE still happening.  That is what pushes you to see how much you want something.  In November, that is NANO.  With 196 + other writers in Delaware ALONE participating in NANO, there is definitely something we can find for ourself to keep us going.  Something as simple as being mentioned live during the virtual write (check out 7:43 AND 21:37 in this video)  in’s is a reminder that each of us can be noticed and recognized, and motivate us to keep pushing on.  That is what I like about being a part of NANO, a librarian, and involved with education, despite the setbacks, there are ways to find your path and find the truer you – it just takes a person to find creative ways to get around those roadblocks, no mater how oppressive they might seem at the time!  Go NANO’ers – it’s about life as well!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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