English rage

I am a snob. I am a highbrow, high standards, high expectations kind of girl…when it comes to the English language.

I was trained that way – it’s not an excuse, it is simply the reason. I have always been in love with language, and good at spelling and grammar (was that grammatically correct???). And I went to university for professional writing…in English. Writing has always come naturally for me and reading has always been my constant companion (I carry a book everywhere I go…and totally did it waaaaay before Rory Gilmore made it hot).

Of course this means that I have a list of things that irk me. Things that make my eye twitch and my skin crawl and my heart weep for the future of the English language. Things I think are unacceptable and inexcusable.

Mispronunciation

It's SO meem. Just so you know.

It’s SO meem. Just so you know. And *it’s…SERIOUSLY. 

In high school, I totally thought melancholy was pronounced melon-sholly. EW. And I, of course, pronounced this word in front of my arch enemy at the time (we were both vying for the affections of our shared very best friend). She took great pleasure in making fun of me…because I was the English guru, for goodness’ sake! DAMMIT. I still burn with shame and embarrassment. It’s melon-kolly. SERIOUSLY. When I hear people pronounce these words incorrectly, I can’t help but feel like they should be burning in shame…but mostly they’re oblivious or, WORSE, they think they’re being cute. Bleh. For me, these words are the worst:

Supposedly – Did you know that there is is no ‘b’ in this word??? And yet people still say supp-oh-ze-Blee. REALLY??? Supposebly. It doesn’t exist. And if you’re over the age of 7, you’re not cute. You sound uneducated. It’s a ‘D’, people.

Specifically – It frustrates me to no end when people pronounce this word without the ‘s’ on the beginning…like pa-sif-fik-lee. Like the ocean. Pacifically. As opposed to Atlantically??? Is it a geographic adverb that you need in your sentence? Or did you just ignore the first letter, like the first step, and now you’re falling UP, which takes an incredible level of clumsiness and anti-skill. It’s spe-sif-fik-lee. And it has nothing inherently to do with oceans. I promise.

Especially – What’s with words with ‘ally’ in them? This one gets an ‘x’ thrown in where the ‘s’ hangs out. Instead of ‘ess’, we get ‘exs’. It’s weird. And wrong. That is all.

Library – This one is just ridiculous. Do not pronounce the place that holds the books, the things that contain the words, improperly. It’s a slap in the face to English. And there’s no reason for it. It’s lye-br-ary. NOT lye-berry. There’s an extra ‘r’ that demands and deserves respect. Please.

Pumpkin – I don’t know what it is about this one, but it is by far my most enraging mispronunciation on the list. I HATE the word ‘punk-in’. There is no ‘n’ there. There is an ‘mp’. And I feel like anyone who says it this way is a twit. There. I said it. You’re a TWIT. I even correct my 6-year old. There’s just no getting over this one. If you say ‘punk-in’ near me, know that although I am polite and will continue our social interactions like I’m supposed to, in my head I’m throwing a tantrum and smacking the ‘punk’ out of you. You’ve been warned.

Not a 'punk' in sight...

Not a ‘punk’ in sight…

Incorrect spelling

I get it. Spell-check is everywhere, no one needs to know how to spell things, and texting and messaging and Facebook-ing makes spelling things out redundant and time-consuming. I KNOW. I still text in full sentences, but I don’t think everyone should. That is NOT what this is about. This is about people not spelling things the right way when they spell them out. You can LOL and BRB all you want, but PLEASE, for the love of all things holy and contained in the OED, avoid these WTF moments:

Congradulations – In a world with everyone’s every milestone being posted on Facebook, this one gets used. And abused. A LOT. Did you know there is no ‘d’ in congratulations? That it’s a ‘t’?? And that when you use the short-form, ‘congrats’, it’s STILL a ‘t’? NOT A ‘D’. Please, please, please stop ‘congradulating’ people and get back to ‘congratulating’ people…because although their daily workout may not be entirely congratulatory, it’s definitely NOT congraDulatory. And, speaking of which…

Such a dumb-ass.

Such a dumb-ass.

Definately – There is no ‘a’ in ‘definitely’. There just isn’t. Do not ‘definately talk to your doctor’ about your kid’s rash, do not ‘definately get together’ with the high school friend you found on FB, do not ‘definately’ confront your neighbour about the crappy way they park their car in front of your driveway. DEFINITELY do any or all of those things. But NEVER ‘definately’.

Your versus You’re – Look. I get it. They sound the same. They practically look the same. But DUDES, they are SO not the same! Your is all about ownership – that’s yours. Your hair. Your new car. Your drama. YOU OWN IT. But you’re??? It’s a contraction, a smashing together, of two words: you + are. And it is used EVERY time someone says ‘thank you’ to you. You’re welcome. As in, YOU ARE welcome. Not, here is YOUR welcome. You own this welcome. But, I’ve done something awesome, you’re (THERE IT IS AGAIN – you are) grateful, and now, I say, you’re welcome! Like, YOU ARE WELCOME to my awesomeness. Bah. Please? Please. Let’s work on this one. It’s almost as cringe-worthy as ‘punk-in’. Almost.

So...which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

So…which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

And last, but NOT least:

Words that don’t FREAKING exist

There is only one word on this list and it is enough of a blight on the English-speaking world to make up for any other made-up word you can think of.

Irregardless. There. That’s it. There is no such word as ‘irregardless’. There is regardless, which means ‘without regard’, and then that’s it. THERE IS NO ‘irregardless’. There is no word that means ‘without without regard’. The ‘ir’ is redundant and nonsensical. It makes the word a double negative, but it doesn’t make a word that means ‘full of regard,’ it just makes you sound dumb and me lose all respect for you. You are stripped of your credibility. I can’t be friends with you anymore. Go stand over there with the ‘punkin’ users.

And if you're not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

And if you’re not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

***

Okay. English rage rant over. Now, tell me yours. What makes your skin crawl, your hatred level rise uncontrollably and irrationally (that IS a word), and your need to punch people in the face to surface? Tell me – what are the language ticks that make you wanna go BOOM?

~ Julia

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Roses

A while ago I posted about entering a short story contest. I meticulously read over the rules and discovered that if I shared my story here, online, I would be eliminating my chance at winning. So I didn’t. And today I got confirmation that I didn’t make the longlist. Boo.

In better news, I can TOTALLY post my story here now. 🙂 Thanks for reading it. Thanks for reading our blog. And thanks for putting up with this navel-gazing post. Happy Friday!



Roses

A short story by Julia Mills

Taken by our talented Andreah

Taken by our talented Andreah

Grace walked away from downtown, taking the sidewalk around the bend in the road out to where country touched the edge of the village. She looked into the windows of houses she passed, noting empty dining room tables, bowed heads of women washing dishes, a foursome playing cards, and a thin old man sitting reading under a light as if he were an exhibit.

She stopped at the last and grandest house on the street. Large and sided with white, the house had black shutters and a wraparound porch bordered by rose bushes and precisely trimmed shrubbery. Two rocking chairs and a child’s tricycle sat on the porch. Some of the large windows were lit and some were dark, but with no obvious pattern. The house belonged to Mr. Frank Hunt, the sole lawyer in town, and his wife, Muriel, president of The Horticultural Society.

Grace had stolen away here a few times before, always after dinner had been cleared away, needing to escape Robert’s two-year old demands, John’s silence as he worked at the dining room table, and the one that was missing, her dead baby, Alice. On those other visits, she had clipped a few of the prize-winning roses to bring home, but it hadn’t seemed to make a difference. They were beautiful, adorning her mantle, her nightstand, and the bathroom counter, but they weren’t enough. Grace wanted one more bouquet, large enough to fill the centre of her dining room table.

She walked to the side of the house where she had left her gardening shears, and made her way to the first bush. It looked like the roses were on fire, a burnt red orange. The shears made quick, clean work of clipping the blooms; the first time she had come she didn’t have her shears, just her hands, and she had to twist and break each stem. Grace clipped a half dozen of the orange roses, dropping them to the ground as she went. She’d gather them all afterwards. Best to keep her hands free to cut now.

Next was a bush heavy with red blooms, their deep blood heads droopy with the weight of their petals and fragrance. It reminded her of the colour of her underwear when they were first trying to have a baby, making love and holding their breath every four weeks, hoping that it would take, that this time was the time.

She clipped all of the blooms off of the bush. When the ground was covered, she moved onto the next, a bush of creamy yellow roses. Grace touched some of the petals, wondering if they were as soft and smooth as they looked. They were. Like Alice’s cheek. Her rosy, beautiful cheek. And then her cold cheek. Blue and empty. Who knew babies could just die in their sleep?

Grace clipped the bush until there was nothing but stubs left and a carpet of yolk and green on the ground. She was breathing hard. She moved onto the next bush. Then the next. Then the next. The sound of rhythmic clipping and rustling filled the back yard, as roses landed on grass.

Then.

“Grace?”

She paused.

“What are you doing?”

She turned.

Mrs. Muriel Hunt was making her way down the steps and into the backyard towards her.

“Grace!” Muriel’s voice was loud and had something sharp in it. Hysteria. Muriel stared at the ground, at Grace’s feet, behind Grace, at her yard. “What are you doing?”

The shears hung in her hand. Then they fell to the ground.

“You are going to pay for this.”

Grace was silent. What was she doing?

“You stay right there.” Muriel turned and ran up the stairs and into the house, leaving the door open, screaming, “Frank!”

Grace sat down on the grass. What was she doing?

“She’s crazy. She’s cut down all of our roses. You better do something about this. The damage is unbelievable. You are going to sue. I’ll have to start all over again. Years of work—”

“Muriel.” Frank knelt down in front of Grace.

“Grace? Are you okay?”

Grace looked at Frank. He’d only ever called her Mrs. Whittier. In town. At church. She used to be Mrs. Whittier. Now she’s Grace. Crazy Grace.

She started to cry, resting her head in her hands, elbows digging into her thighs.

“Grace.” Frank lifted her up and carried her into the house, putting her down on a couch and wrapping a blanket around her. She was still crying.

“I’m going to call your husband.”

Receding footsteps and voices.

“She’s ruined everything. Everything. What are you going to do?”

“Muriel.”

“I want you to do something!”

“Her daughter died.”

Grace lay down on the couch, pulling the blanket over her head, hiding with her warm breath. What was she doing?

Then.

“Grace.” John’s hands and voice.

She pulled the blanket down and looked at him. Oh, his face was so worried. And his hands. He hadn’t touched her in months. Not since she had slept through the night and let Alice die.

“Grace.” It came out like a breath, full of air and defeat. He sat beside her and pulled her to him. Her ear was against his heart.

He rocked, as if she were Robert or Alice. He rocked her like she was his child and he was the parent and he had to be in charge and she was in trouble and he would fix everything.

His voice rumbled up from his chest. “What happened?”

“Muriel found her outside.”

“Cutting down my rose bushes!”

“Muriel.”

“They’re destroyed.”

“Muriel.” Strong, stern, then, “John, I thought you should come get her and take her home.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry for whatever damage—“

“No damage.”

Then Grace remembered. She lifted her head. “Where’s Robert?”

“He’s with Sarah.” John smoothed her hair.

“Sarah? Where’s Robert?” Her own hysteria was rising in her throat.

“In the kitchen with our daughter, Sarah. I think they’re getting a snack.” Frank smiled kindly, sympathetically, pathetically.

John pulled the blanket tighter around Grace’s shoulders. “Let’s go home.”

“I’ll get Robert for you.”

“Thank you.” John stood up, pulling Grace up with him. He adjusted the blanket again, then wrapped his arm around her. Grace leaned into him. She was so tired.

They made their way to the front foyer where they were met by a sleepy Robert, eating a piece of bread and being held by Sarah, a child herself, a miniature Muriel.  

Grace reached out, touching Robert’s hair. John and Frank talked more, but she didn’t know what was said. Then they left, retracing Grace’s steps until they were home.

John left her in the bedroom so he could put Robert to bed. Grace stood there, unsure of what to do, until John came back. John took the blanket from around her shoulders and started getting her undressed.

“Robert is sleeping,” he said, as he pulled her shirt up over her head. He slid off her pants with her underwear. He went behind her and unhooked her bra.

She was naked and cold.

Then he was putting on her nightgown, up over her head, pulling her arms through and the hem down so that her bum was covered. Then he lifted her hair out of the neck and kissed her on the forehead.

It was his turn. His pants, underwear, shirt, undershirt off. His pyjamas, top and bottoms, on. He led her to bed, to her side. He pulled down the sheet and blankets she had cleaned and tucked, put her beneath them and retucked them around her.

He went around to his side and slid in, curling around her, holding her, breathing into her neck, his cold nose pressing into her hair, her bum in the curve of his pelvis.

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“John.”

“Listen. We’ll be okay.” He sounded like he was trying to convince her. “We’ll be okay.” Now he was convincing himself.

The sound of the dark house filled the silence.

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

She rolled over. He held her, her nose being tickled by chest hair poking out over his top, his skin and her breath combining into a damp warmth. Her arm was tucked between them, her hand on his chest. She could feel his breathing change. Quicker. More desperate.

Then she was kissing him. On the mouth. Her tongue looking for his, his finding hers. Then he was pulling her tighter.

Then her nightgown was up over her head and on the floor. His pyjamas were coming off, buttons unbuttoning, pants slipping down.

And then they were one again. Moving together again. Again. Again. Again. Again.

At last.

Then they slept, deeply, until Robert was climbing on top of them, telling them it was morning, it was time to play, it was time to wake up.

It was time.

Birthday boy

We’re in a tricky spot, over here at my house. It’s tricky because March is BIRTHDAY-PACKED, but Ben has a huge deadline that’s due date is actually his birthday day. So what is a Laurentino, who LOVES celebrating, supposed to do when the guy you love to celebrate with, love to celebrate, love to love is too busy to be celebrated? WRITE A MUSHY BLOG POST!

He’s turning the big 3-6, so I thought I’d give you 36 reasons why Ben is awesome:

1. He’s the best father to our kids. They squeal when he comes home, they demand his attention, they curl up and snooze with him in the mornings, and he’s working SO damn hard for them right now.

Daddy the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

Daddy, the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

2. He’s committed. To our marriage, to our family, to his game developer dream, to his footie passion. He’s all in. Always.

3. He’s strong. From opening stubborn, slimy sippy cups, to carrying all the laundry from all the rooms down all the stairs, he’s a tough guy…and I appreciate it with both of my carpal tunneled hands.

4. He’s a softie. No, seriously. Is there a poignant moment in the movie or TV show you’re watching? Get ready…he’ll be teary. It’s adorable.

5. He’s THERE for you. Need something? Anything? Like moving your house for the 845793rd time, or needing some groceries dropped off, or a push out a giant snowbank? He’s your guy. In a heartbeat.

6. He appreciates a good laugh. And when you’re raising ALL the CRAZIES, it’s a good thing…otherwise we’d both be crying (see #4).

7. He’s not afraid of hard work. Manual labour, thinking labour, working until the wee hours of the morning, he’s in. And he’s committed (see #2).

8. He’s the king of goofing off. I’m a little nutty…and a lot Type A personality…and my go-go-go-go can quickly kill me. He’s a perfect balance to my nonsensical need to busy all. the. time. Without him, I’d be in a corner, rocking, with so many more grey hairs.

9. He’s a family man. In every sense of the word. He’s all about keeping family okay, and family includes our five, our one in heaven, his side, my side, and the life friends we’ve picked up along the way.

10. He’s tough. Different than strong, he can take a beating, both on the field and in life, and keep moving, keep fighting. I haven’t seen him give up yet…even when all the signs were yelling at him to quit.

11. He’s handsome. ‘Nuff said.

Right?!

Right?!

12. He can smell good. Note the ‘can’. He doesn’t always. But when he does…mmmm…he smells good. 

13. He gives the best hugs. They’re big and all-encompassing and warm and when I’m in them I feel small and protected and home. And the coolest part? He’s passed this genetic gift onto Lillian, who is an all-body hugger.

14. He’s funny. Sometimes. And sometimes not. He makes me laugh sometimes. But sometimes not. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

15. He’s smart. Smarter than me in so many ways. Smart bookwise and computerwise and lifewise and lovewise. He’s a smartie pants…and our kids will benefit from that greatly when they come home with trigacalculusometry homework.

16. He works hard to find the right gift. Research, listening to what you say out loud and what you say in not so many words, then searching and trying so hard to get it right.

17. He writes the best cards. Birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, just because…Ben’s notes are the sweetest, most thought out…and it’s ridiculous because I am a writer and he out-writes me!

18. He wants to hang out with our kids. I’m not sure you’re aware, but they’re crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work he’d want to hide out and not see anyone. But he doesn’t. He’s on the floor, playing with them, laughing with them, then herding them up the stairs, hogtying them into their pyjamas and reading them all the stories even when the stories are nonsense.

19. He wants to hang out with me. I’m not sure you’re aware, but I’m crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work and a long night of hanging out with our crazy loin fruit, he’d want to hide out and not see anyone…but he doesn’t. He wants to watch How I Met Your Mother together and spend time together. He’s a glutton for punishment.

20. He giggles. He says he chuckles, because it’s a more manly word (his words), but I swear it – this burly man giggles.

21. He remembers all the 21s. We started dating on November 21 and we got married on May 21, so 21 is kind of our number. Every month we make sure we say, Happy 21! to each other on the 21st. He remembers more often than me…and usually when we’re rushing around and I’m about ready to lose my mind, he reminds me: we had romantic moments and we have a great life. Happy 21!

22. He’s warm. As someone with zero ability to maintain any sort of normal body temperature, having someone warm sleep beside you, let you snuggle up to on the couch, or wrap you in a warming hug when you’ve just come back from a -20-something run, is GOLD. AND?! His babies are little heaters. 🙂 I WIN.

23. He likes to play. Football, board games, video games, in the sand, in the water, in the bath, in the snow, and in the sun – he likes to play and participate. It’s awesome. And lets me nap…

24. He supports napping. Ben does not believe in taking naps. He hates them. He feels like it’s a waste of time. I thrive on naps. I LOVE naps. If I could have two naps a day, I would. In a heartbeat. So the fact that Ben fully supports my love affair with naps, while himself hating them, is awesome. And so generous. Now, if he would just come home from work so I can have one…or two.

25. He believes and loves God. For non-believers or even agnostics, this might not seem like a big deal. But when you talk to God a lot, when you love God a lot, when you want to raise God-lovers and -believers, this is an incredible gift. We are a family of believers and it’s lovely.

26. He’s actively interested in stuff I’m not. This might seem like a bad thing, but it actually makes for great conversation that doesn’t get boring. I like watching football with Ben, but Ben LOVES football, so he can answer my more detailed questions about contracts, money, culture AND plays and stats. I enjoy the odd video game, but Ben can talk about the development piece, or the possible reasons a developer made the decisions they did. Not dull at all.

27. He believes in me. I want to be a writer, a crocheter, a card-maker, a baker, a runner, a good mom, a good wife, and Ben? He believes I can do all those things well, successfully, and he tells me as much. He’s my number 1 fan and I’m so lucky.

28. He’s my best friend. It wasn’t this way in the beginning. I had lots of best girl-friends. But now? He’s one of my best friends and it’s the best part of our relationship.

29. He’s a good man in a storm. I’m not too bad in a storm myself, but he’s better. And at the moment that I start to lose my shipshapeness, his kicks in to hyper drive. He helps me keep my head, and will do everything in his power to fix, stop, or make the storm palatable.

30. He trusts me. This could be a sign of insanity or poor judgement on his part, but he trusts me with our home and our babies, with their care and keeping. He trusts me to be a good mom. It’s a huge thing and I don’t take it lightly.

31. He’s trustworthy. I don’t worry about Ben. I know he’ll be there, he’ll do his best, that he’ll work hard, that he’ll take the right things seriously, and that together we’re stronger.

32. He takes pride in his athleticism. Which is an asset for me, who, although has found a love for fitness, still has a great affinity for her bed – it’s inspiring. And for our girls – because we both work out and exercise, they talk about exercising and working out. It’s keeping our family healthy.

33. He is system-oriented. He has a method for blowing his nose. A way to brush his teeth. A manner in which he makes bread. A routine for everything that can be regimented. It’s endearing…and sometimes enraging…but mostly nice and predictable. Our babies? Not predictable. He’s a nice change of pace.

34. He’s confidently Ben. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. And he’s not afraid to ask for these things, but in a timely and appropriate manner. He doesn’t like semi-sweet chocolate chips, but make him cookies with them and he’ll eat and appreciate them. He wears boxer-briefs and refuses to wear anything else. Buy him the wrong underwear, he will be returning it and exchanging it for the right kind. See? Appropriate responses. 😉

35. He tells me how he feels. I grew up in a family of girls, so talking about our feelings was a daily, almost hourly event. Ben…not so much. The fact that he will actually tell me how he feels is a gift I don’t take lightly. I appreciate that he shares just for me…even if it’s not the oversharing I’m used to.

36. He lets me celebrate him. Ben didn’t grow up with giant birthday displays, so the fact that he lets me gush on him, spoil him, and force him to participate in fantastic organized birthday events is awesome. I love birthday-ing the people that I love…and since he is THE love of my LIFE, it’s incredibly generous that he lets me birthday him the way see fit.

Happy happy happy birthday, Ben!! I love you!

~ Julia

Sisterhood Spotlight: The Miniaturist

I am a bit of a snobby reader.

I personally blame my education – I have a degree in English, which was a learning path littered with literature and high-brow criticism, and hours upon hours upon hours of reading and dissecting said reading. In the end? I know what I like. I know what I don’t like. And it all comes crashing into the fact that I have very little time to actually read. When I choose a book I am really picky – I need it to be well-written, I need it to grab me, I need it to not be too graphic (or my very impressionable brain will run away with all the gory details), and I need it to be fairly straightforward (Fantasy? Sci-fi? If it’s based in a world like ours, I have a shot…build a completely new world with an entirely new vocabulary to name every piece of it?? Either give me a glossary or you’ll have to wait until I have all my faculties again…which will probably be never).

That’s why I LOVED The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, a debut novelist who wowed me with her prowess, imagination, and finely spun tale.

The story is set in 1686 Amsterdam, where 18-year old Nella is newly married to her wealthy merchant husband. But when she arrives to her new life, where she expects to be the mistress of her domain, she is met with blow after blow, surprise after surprise, and in the midst of it all, a cabinet-sized replica of her new home.

This book pulled me in from the beginning, with writing that was strong, yet clear. Although it is set in the late 1600s, and in a different country, Jessie Burton does a superb job of bringing you right in the middle of the culture and world, without making you feel like you’re playing catch-up the whole time. And even though there is a glossary in the back (THANK YOU), I didn’t have to use it once while reading.

I loved the history, the opulence, the hardship, the class and race clashes, the clandestine love, the unrequited love, and the extraordinary, yet hidden, strength of the main character, Nella.

The writing was gorgeous and the story was thrilling. It was a book that was easy to read, made me never want to put it down, made me want it to end so I could figure out where we were going, yet made me wish it never ended so I didn’t have to leave the world. The last quarter of the book was so tense and emotionally taunt that when I finished reading, I had a lump in my chest that I had carried for days.

I fully recommend this book…and now I need to go write more of my own novel, because Jessie Burton? You’ve inspired me. Thank you.

~ Julia

Now we wait

Well, I did it. I submitted my writing for the CBC Short Story Prize. It was a process that involved taking a 7,500-word excerpt and simmering it down to a 1,487-word short story. It is a brick in the path to achieving my dream of being a published novelist. It is wholly exhilarating and terrifying to have my work out there in front of readers and judges and I’m torn between wanting it to get lost on the way to someone’s desk and winning.

What am I saying? I REALLY want to win! 😉

It’s also November, the month of NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, which is actually an international movement of aspiring writers who scribble furiously for the month of November in an attempt to complete a 50,000-word novel.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

It’s extreme writing, where content doesn’t matter as much as word count, and completion trumps coherence, but at the end of the crazy period you have a novel where before there was none.

Last year alone 310,095 participants in 595 regions in 6 continents wrote furiously, trying to attain the elusive and grinding goal of completing their book.

Is this particular writing process useful or effective?

Some could argue that it’s not, that it doesn’t allow you to think, edit, ruminate, let characters evolve ‘naturally’ and it’s a lot of time spent on writing crap versus spending that time crafting actual art.

Others argue it’s a brilliant exercise, used to strengthen the writing habit by getting you to write every day, by forcing you to jump in with both feet whether or not you’re ready, instead of sliding your idea into the back of the filing cabinet for when you ‘have time,’ and it’s exciting when at the end you’ve finished something. As someone who’s never finished writing a novel and is currently on her fourth year of writing this one, finishing a book sounds divine.

And some NaNoWriMo books actually get published the traditional way, like the bestseller Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, and one of my favourite and oft-recommended books, The Night Circus by Erin Moregenstern. According to the NaNoWriMo website, there are over 250 books that were written in the dismal month of November under the word-count stress that have been published. That number alone is enough to give hope to anyone willing to put their fingers to the ink-stained grindstone for 30 days (and then countless days revising afterwards).

So will I be NaNoWriMo-ing? Probably not. Because I legitimately don’t have a lot of time and I’m already torn in three bagillion (a real and accurate number, I tell ya!) directions. Because I’m working steadily and at a pace that doesn’t drive my anxiety through the roof. And because I’ve given myself a more realistic goal that has nothing to do with November and everything to do with the end of 2014. My goal is to finish my book, the first, rough, horrible, not-rushed draft of it, by December 31. 

I feel like this will give me time to rework it and massage it and get it ready to be submitted into the big bad world of publishing (it’s only big and bad to me because it’s unknown and terrifying…I’m sure it’s actually lovely and everyone is super friendly and there’s no pressure whatsoever) (YEAH, RIGHT) by the fall of 2015 when I have more babies in school than at home and more time (HA!) than I have right now chasing a preschooler and a toddler during the day. I’m full of hope. And delusions.

But to everyone who is writing away right this second, who is watching their word count climb, but never fast enough, and who are going to question their sanity multiple times over the next few weeks, especially if they take part in the overnighter where, you guessed it, you write through the night into the next day with other like-minded (read: CRAZY) NaNoWriMo-ers: good luck! I wish you high volume and a solid first draft by December 1.

To those who also submitted their short story for the CBC Short Story Prize, also good luck! I hope I win, but I also hope that the right story wins.

Now, to get back to tinkering with my tome of nonsense. Who knows? Maybe four years won’t have been a waste of time.

~ Julia

P.S. Kim asked for an excerpt of my short story and I really wanted to oblige! I was going to publish the whole story here as my post today, but then I reread the contest rules and that would count as my story being published and therefore automatically disqualified. You’ll just have to wait until next year. If I get shortlisted, my story will be published online and I’ll post the link! If I’m not, I’ll send the story to people still interested. Until then…fingers crossed!