Oh, No, November!

“There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

November – the ninth month from the old Latin calendar, hence the name, when people divided the year into ten segments rather than twelve. Back then November stood, as it still does, on the cusp between Samhain and Winter Solstice. That pagan thing before the Christian takeover, before All Saints and All Souls and Thanksgiving and Advent. No clever god stood ready to claim November’s hand, so the practical won. Ninth month, pregnant with foreshadowing and the clear, crisp voice of mortality.

So, November. In this month, NaNoWriMo returns, enough of a tease to make a writer’s heart stutter, enough of a taunt to make one cringe. National November Writing Month and the challenge is on. Put butt in chair, fingers on the keyboard (or pen, if you still write the old-fashioned way), head in the airspace that surrounds your creative corner and GO! Write a novel in thirty days. No judgment here. Doesn’t have to be good, just has to be done. Stretch your hand for the ancient Nike swoosh, gird yourself with wine and chocolate, and just do it.

No. I have never run this particular marathon. I always have a Work-In-Progress straining at the gate. Don’t get sidetracked, my story urges. Feed the muse you’ve got. Which is the advice I’d give, if anyone were to ask. Follow your own inner instinct. If the moment calls to you, of course you should clasp hands and take that path. But if your story is already in your bed, unclothed and waiting to be ravished, don’t turn your head in another direction. You, after all, make the call. Personally, I need these thirty days for revision, so that is where I’ll be, squeezing as much productivity out of this eleventh month as when it was the ninth. And if my thirty days slide into forty or more, I’ll remind myself of Mehmet Murat ildan’s words: all seasons melted in each other’s life.

A story may begin with a challenge, stagger forward, lurch along the course, but, in the end, all that matters is crossing the finish line. After that, new challenges await. December sashays in, candles lit, legends rustling, packages filled with surprise or regret stacked at your feet. The ancient and the modern worlds dance a jig as music swells in the aisles of churches and department stores. But enough of anticipation. I am where I am, at my computer watching the words tumble free like breath in the frosty air.

November. Thirty clots of darker days and skies smudged with gray and bruised clouds teasing us, ragged wisps of loves-me, loves-me-not transposed into snow promises and hard rain. This month offers us the last, sad, soft fall of leafy veils. In naked vulnerability, November whispers, “See me. I am savage and ruined and aching to sleep, but I hold the promise of rebirth in my silent slumber.”

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