Not for the faint of heart? More like, not for the sane.


I am just about as busy as I have ever been.

Teaching two classes, editing an online newspaper and an alumni magazine, serving as University webmaster, and now expected to conduct writing workshops at academies as recruitment trips. I long for the days when all I had to do was teach four classes. Was there ever a time?

I often see smart, talented students who get caught in the trap of overextending themselves in too many directions: a full (or over) load of classes, choir, recruitment trips and maybe a couple of jobs. And I chastise them. And then I do the same thing. One of the reasons I have lived in several places is because I get so committed to stuff that I feel the only way I can get out of it is to move. Is it time to move?

And now, I am confronted by something I love, an insanity that I have faced twice and survived, and even recruited others to do as well.

What in the world am I doing?

November is approaching, and with it National Novel Writing Month.

Sigh. Oops, I mean…yippee!

Two years ago I discovered it and wrote my 50,000-word apocalyptic novel, The Kiss of Night, in 14 days.

Last year I did it again, but took the whole 30 days to write the Western/steampunk novel Tom Horn versus the Warlords of Krupp. I also was successful in recruiting three students to participate with me. Edward, Sarah, Scott, you three are as crazy as I am.

This year, we have a total of two faculty and four students who are going to try it. Mind you, not everyone finishes. Last year, out of 165,000 participants, only (only!) 30,000 crossed the finish line. But the goal is to challenge yourself.

And therein lies the joy of the exercise. Every time I have done it I have learned something new about myself and my writing. And I really, truly had fun doing it. I know; I’m a masochist.

What will I write this year? I haven’t a clue. I hope to figure that out this weekend.

Because despite my better sense, I know that I will end up doing this. As a professor, a lot of my teaching comes with leading by example. So I guess my example is teaching others to be crazy too.

But being a writer–a serious writer–has never been for those who want a safe, sane life.

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