Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo Edition
Written by
gayle brandeis
November 2011
Written by
gayle brandeis
November 2011


Things I’m thankful for this NaNoWriMo:

--NaNoWriMo itself, of course--these “30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon” give us such wonderful permission to play, to dive headlong into our writerly dreams, to leave the editor at the door, to let the words fly.

--The support of family and friends who understand how important this month is to me, and who tolerate my occasional disappearance into the world of my story. I also couldn’t have done this without our great babysitter, Diana, and the loving teachers at Asher’s first month of preschool (now I feel like I'm giving an acceptance speech! There's no academy to thank, though, just lots of wonderful people, lots of wonderful sources of inspiration, who made my participation in NaNoWriMo possible.)

--Words! How lucky are we as writers that we get to play with words?! Thank you, humans who came before us, for inventing the alphabet, for stringing those letters together to create words, those words together to create sentences, those sentences together to create stories. We are part of a long, rich legacy of literacy, of the human need to express and understand. I am feeling super grateful for that legacy this November.

--Characters who appear unannounced on the page and become super important to the story. Hedry, I couldn’t have anticipated you with your social anxiety and your mad bow and arrow skills, but I’m so glad you showed up.

--Those aha moments where everything falls into place, where you aren’t sure what you’re going to include in a scene, but then you realize you’ve left little clues for yourself along the way, little images that can be developed or earlier conversations between characters that can now spawn action or questions that you can now start to answer. It’s as if the story has its own native intelligence and we just have to uncover it.

--Eyes and ears and skin and nose and tongue with which to take in the world. I often say that writing is like breath--not that it’s automatic and organic (although it can be), but because it’s a constant interchange between self and world. We breathe in the world through our senses, taking in all that rich, vibrant material into our bodies, and then when we write, it’s like breathing ourselves back to the world, filtering those sensory impressions through our own quirky lens.

--Fruit! I can’t seem to stop writing about fruit. My book Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write uses fruit as its central metaphor (the first sentence is “A strawberry changed my life”); my novel Delta Girls is set on an organic pear farm and is filled with the fruit (the original title of the book was actually “Pears”); now Seed Bombs has quite a few fruit scenes, as well--how could it not, with “Seed” in the title?!--including one with a strawberry. I may be turning myself into a bit of a fruit-writing cliche at this point, but I can’t help’s just too much fun to write about.

--My new MacBook Air, Little Wind, named for the first poem I ever wrote when I was 4 years old (along with its smallness, its airiness)--”Blow, little wind/blow the seas, little wind/blow the trees, little wind/blow me until I am free, little wind”. I think I understood from the very beginning that writing can be like a wind that blows through us, creating a spaciousness inside of us, an expansiveness, a new kind of freedom. I definitely feel liberated through this computer and its buttery keys--it helps me write like the wind, brings me that same exhilaration I first found as a four year old. I hadn’t realized how much my temperamental old computer had been holding me down. Now I can fly again.

--The inspiration I’ve found in the Occupy Movement. It has influenced this novel in untold ways. Seeing people coming together to stand up for their own humanity--that is one of the most beautiful stories in the world. I feel privileged to watch this movement grow, and to be part of it, myself. I wonder how many other writers are weaving its inspiration into their narratives, either directly or in ineffable ways.

--Community. It’s so cool to go to the NaNoWriMo website and realize how many people are on this solitary, communal journey together! I’m especially grateful for the community of She Writes--thank you to everyone who has commented and liked and tweeted these blogs and shared your own experiences. I’m so happy to experience this writerly marathon (and the writerly life beyond it) with you.

What are you thankful for this NaNoWriMo? Please share!


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  • Patricia Robertson

    I didn't complete Nanowrimo this year. It seems the book I planned to write wasn't ready to be written. So I ended up working on a non-fiction book that demanded my attention. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I'm grateful for the insights that led me to drop the one book in order to work on the other and I'm grateful for the fun of previous Nanowrimos.

  • gayle brandeis

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much, Mary and Janece. So glad you were able to experience the magic of NaNoWriMo amidst holiday and root canal madness, Mary! And Janece, I'm so delighted that Fruitflesh has spoken to you--I love the name of you blog (of course!) and will definitely check it out. Congrats on completing NaNoWriMo for the first time--hoorah! xoxo

  • Mary L. Holden

    I am thankful for this post! It was a delight to read! I remember NaNoWriMo '09 as magical, even though I was responsible for cooking our Thanksgiving meal and about mid-way through I endured my first root canal!