Grace (and Writing) Under Pressure

I was tempted, but I decided against writing the NaNoWriMo this year (it would have been my first time). For those who don't know, the NaNoWriMo is a contest/gimmick/group therapy/fun event where people sign up and commit to writing a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. That's right: 50,000 words, or roughly 1667 words per day, each day. Thousands sign up, but only hundreds complete it. Most everybody, I think, gets put through the ringer and has a good time.

No, what emerges on November 30th is not good literature, yet; that's what the remaining eleven months out of the year are for. Nobody going into the NaNoWriMo expects to produce the next Moby Dick, but I would recommend the NaNoWriMo for anybody who has had a novel idea shaking around in their head for a while and just need a push to get it out, or for anybody looking to change their writing style.

Whenever we write, many of us have some difficulty shaking the inner editor out of our pen. The editor's time is not when one is writing, it's when one is looking over what one has written (preferably a week or a month later). An exercise that many writers suggest is to take a phrase or a saying or anything, and just sitting down for five minutes and writing what comes to mind, no editing, no crossing out. This sort of writing under pressure can produce interesting connections that one can't get when one's editor is working, and the NaNoWriMo is this sort of exercise taken to the extreme.

Whatever the case, it sounds like good fun. It's also similar to the twenty-four hour playwright contest that's run in Toronto each summer. I've often thought that it would be nice to rent a hotel room and a laptop and sequester Erin and Dan for that time, and see what we come up with.

But right now, I have no novel that's shaking around in my head, needing that little push to get out. I'm in the midst of editing The Young City and Rosemary and Time and thinking out ideas for The Night Girl. My Maritimes trip also puts a bit of a crimp on things.

But next year may be different. I thrill to the idea of writing under pressure.

In the meantime, to those writers undergoing the NaNoWriMo: best of luck!


Dan has moved into his new digs. That has to have been one of the easiest moves I've ever experienced; I guess it helps having the apartment available the month beforehand to move stuff in.

It has been an incredible scramble of a week, getting press releases ready, gathering names for a bulk flyer mailout, preparing for our trip to the Maritimes, everything. Both Erin and I have ended up a little stressed. Hopefully, the (working) holiday will do us good. I've never been to the Maritimes (I've never been east of Montreal), and I'm looking forward to the trip.

At Alternatives Journal, work is progressing on the Winter issue, focusing on Energy. Everybody's very excited because of the quality of the articles and the promotion possibilities. It's looking especially timely now that Dalton McGuinty has announced that Ontario's coming off the electricity rate freeze.

I would have to say that McGuinty has done well during his first few weeks as premier. His announcement of the higher than expected deficit and his removal of the electricity rate cap could have been political nightmares that soured the start of his administration, but he avoided that. Getting an accredited independent auditor to look over the books made the whole process look honest, and it exposed the lies (I'm sorry, but this has to be said) that the outgoing Eves government were operating under throughout the election campaign.

As for the electricity rate cap, most reasonable Ontarians knew that it was, at best, a costly band-aid solution that only made Ontarians feel superficially better while exacerbating the problem of overconsumption or undersupply (why conserve and why set up additional power plants if the rates are going to be held artificially low?). Most reasonable Ontarians know that the coming months will require some sacrifice as we fix the infrastructure so shoddily run by the outgoing Conservatives. Again, McGuinty came clean with us, unlike Ernie Eves. McGuinty didn't get my vote, but this week he got my respect.

It still looks like we're going to have to watch our electricity use in the coming months, and again this makes the Energy theme issue of Alternatives all the more timely and relevant. So, if you're looking for easy ways to reduce your power bill, or inspiring stories on what people in the grassroots have done to kick their energy addiction, look for the Winter issue of Alternatives on newsstands in early December.

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