NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is near. Novel writing is liberating and just plain ol’ fun, but it requires a shift in mindset. Many students and adults want their writing to be perfect. NaNoWriMo embraces the concept of exuberant imperfection. In order to hit word count goals and maybe, just maybe, produce something worth reading writers have to give themselves permission to make mistakes and compose absolute garbage.
My creative writing students are currently blogging daily. We’re building confidence as writers and publishers. I encourage writers to embrace the ideas that pop into their minds and roll with it. Oh, I guarantee that we will all write some pretty silly and awful stories, but that’s fine. Exuberant imperfection. Embrace it. It is so freeing.
I normally don’t publish my silly word sprint stories, but here’s one I wrote while modeling the creative writing skills and state of mind I hope my students can and will develop.
Here’s my glorious word sprint story in all its unedited glory:
“Bow season starts Thursday,” Student X declared with a smile one glorious Monday morning. He had been waiting for this day all summer and early fall. The moment when he could escape into the woods with his bow in his hand and seek out the elusive brush goats. “Man they’re good eating,” Student X could often be heard declaring as his eyes stared off dreamily into the distance.
His mind was on hunting and stayed on hunting. It was his passion and his life.
Rarely was there a day when he didn’t make mention of it in some way shape or form.
The hours and minutes ticked away slowly that week.
Monday- every moment slowly trudged past. One day closer.
Tuesday- tick, tock, tick, tock… the near constant ticking of the clocks was beginning to wear him down. Thursday felt so close yet so far away.
Wednesday. Now Wednesday was the worst. Every moment passed like an eternity. School had never felt so boring or so long or so awful. “Why can’t it just be Thursday already,” poor Student X lamented. His mind was already in the woods. He could smell the early fall air in his mind. Hear the rustling of squirrels in the trees. He could even imagine the crunching of leaves and twigs beneath his feet as he walked down the dark halls of his high school.
Wednesday was the longest day ever known to Student X. Thursday morning dawned and he grabbed his bow and hit the woods. His mother called after him, “Hey! Hey!! Don’t be late for school! Okay?!”
“Sure, Mom. I’ll see you up there in a bit,” he replied nonchalantly. He was both exhilarated and relaxed in the same moment. It was finally here. The excitement pulsed through his veins. The sounds of the woods invigorated his mind and spirit. It was a short 1/4 mile walk to his stand. He was so ready to be perched up above the woods keenly observing and listening for any deer passing through.
Maybe this year would be the year he finally bagged a big ol’ buck he thought to himself. It was about 5:45am, and X was settled in. He didn’t have to leave to go to school until around 7:45. He’d just drop his bow off at home and shoot down the road and arrive just in the nick of time.
The sun was exploding on the horizon. Birds were just beginning to sing their morning songs. That’s when X heard it.
“Holy crap, that’s gotta be a monster!” X thought to himself. He scanned the horizon looking for a tell tale pair of massive antlers. Nothing. The woods fell silent. X settled his breathing and scanned the woods once again. His eyes caught a slight movement just to the east of the tree that always stood out in his mind.
This tree had a low hanging limb with almost a 90 degree angle in it. It was strange, but it was an excellent place marker. The movement was fast.So fast that his brain couldn’t process what he was seeing. He just knew it was huge. X’s heart started to race in his chest. He could feel adrenaline flood his system. He knew he needed to calm down. If this was a monster buck he’d never aim straight shaking and hyper ventilating.
He heard a loud crush and movement to the west. Yet still he could see nothing.
He drew in a deep breath of air, held it for a few seconds and then slowly exhaled. That’s when he heard a sound so strange and alien. It was a cross between a cougar scream and a man making a coyote call. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. His heart jumped into his throat.
He saw a flash of movement west of the notch tree. It was big, really big. Then he really saw it.
Was it a man in a ghillie suit? Maybe it was just one of his classmates?
He froze as he heard a loud crash at the base of the tree stand. He look down and terror paralyzed him.
Student X was looking straight into the eyes of the strangest creatures he’d ever seen in his life.
He had run, played, and hunted in these woods dang near his entire life, and yet still he’d never come face to face with anything like this.
“Don’t be afraid,” the creature mumbled in a gravely and deep voice. The sounds echoed around X’s mind as he tried to process what he was experiencing. X’s paralysis suddenly vaporized when the creature began mounting the ladder and heading straight towards the landing where he sat.
“Stop!” X demanded with his bow raised and aiming squarely at the creatures chest.
“You stop!” the creature retorted as he yanked the bow from X’s hand and threw it to the woods below. The bow hit the wood’s floor with a clatter and X saw red.
X said words that aren’t fit for print, but let me tell you that creature got the message loud and clear. Tears welled up in the creatures eyes. I’ll be darned if the thing didn’t spit out an apology.
Little did they both know that they had just embarked and given birth to an amazing friendship.
After the tension passed they both started getting to know one another.
They both had a passion for hunting. X had to cut their meeting short and head off to school, but that day was the first of many that X and Larry the Yeti spend in the woods sharing good laughs and hunting time on X’s trusty tree stand.