No, no, no #NaNoWriMo for me!

The big top­ic in the writ­ing world this time of year is NaNoW­riMo, Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month, in which aspir­ing writ­ers are encour­aged to churn out 50,000 words of rough draft in 30 days. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, but after weeks of con­sid­er­a­tion and days of ago­niz­ing, I’ve final­ly decid­ed NOT to do it this year. I’m extreme­ly tempt­ed to push myself to attempt some­thing I’ve nev­er done before (fin­ish a novel)—I am very com­pet­i­tive and I do love a good chal­lenge, after all. Plus, I know I’d learn a lot about myself and my writ­ing in the process, which would be both excit­ing and use­ful. And, you nev­er know, at the end of it all I just might have some­thing worth pur­su­ing further.
So, what’s hold­ing me back? Well, besides a nice help­ing of typ­i­cal writer­ly fears (which is just anoth­er rea­son TO do it, of course), there’s a nag­ging lit­tle bit of actu­al self-knowl­edge that can’t be ignored. It feels so inap­pro­pri­ate that I’m embar­rassed to admit it, espe­cial­ly here, in such a pub­lic forum. But, I sup­pose it’s time to come clean and be hon­est with you all: I’ve nev­er had a burn­ing desire to write a pure­ly fic­tion­al novel.
the magic of first booksI am most drawn to two par­tic­u­lar kinds of lit­er­ary mag­ic. One is help­ing a child learn to read by pro­vid­ing some­thing inter­est­ing enough for them to work through at a lev­el that is acces­si­ble yet just chal­leng­ing enough to increase their skill (begin­ning read­ers: fic­tion and non­fic­tion). The oth­er is help­ing a child under­stand the world around them through books that are meant to be shared with a par­ent or teacher, books that will open up a dia­log between young chil­dren whose val­ues aren’t yet defined and the adults help­ing to shape those val­ues (board and pic­ture books: fic­tion and nonfiction).
I love read­ing all kinds of fic­tion, and I am keen­ly aware that a well-writ­ten nov­el can expand a reader’s world­view in ways that short­er works often can­not. Good fic­tion can illu­mi­nate truth with a spot­light effect that can be dif­fi­cult to achieve in non­fic­tion. I admire nov­el writ­ers immense­ly and feel blessed to call many of them friends. Per­haps some­day I’ll even decide to try to join their ranks. For now, though, the audi­ences I most wish to con­nect with just aren’t ready for nov­els. I’ll have to fol­low my own kind of magic.

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