Tag Archives: words

Why I’m Saying No to NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMoAs most writerly folks know, today is the first day of NaNoWriMo where scribblers around the world pledge that they’ll get 50,000 words–any words–on the page by the end of the month. Each year when this event kicks off, I think about joining in. Then opt out. With 170,000 participants last year who collectively penned over 2.4 billion words, it’ll do just fine without my meager output.

Here’s my reasons for saying no to NaNoWriMo:

First, I’m about 20,000 words through the rough draft of a novel. The national writing frenzy is all about starting a brand new project, and I don’t want to put my current story aside. It’s at a fragile stage where I’d possibly never pick it back up again. I’ve lost sight of how awesome this idea was when I first started hammering at it. The sheen is gone. While part of me would love to start on a squeaky, new idea, the rest must resist. Also, while I might have this rough draft done by the end of the month, if not that’s okay too. I’m withholding freak-outs until the end of the year.

Second, I’m heading off this weekend for the SCBWI Weekend on the Water retreat at Alderbrook Resort & Spa. Sounds very spiffy. I haven’t been to this before so not sure what to expect, but I’m looking forward to getting some early feedback on the novel that’s underway. It’ll be good to meet some other writers (and illustrators) who focus on kid lit and stretch the writer muscle a bit. Plus, a little time in a beautiful place never hurts.

Finally, and most importantly, I have an appointment with my six-year-old niece to bake an apple pie in Massachusetts. It’s become our annual Thanksgiving tradition. One of the posts I read on NaNoWriMo mentioned how it’s a great excuse to get out of Thanksgiving obligations with the family. A few years back before the nieces and nephews arrived I may have agreed, but now I wouldn’t trade the pie making for any number of words. I figure in another ten years, I can hand off the pie responsibilities entirely. And yes, the crust will be from scratch. The secret is to make it the night before and refrigerate so that it’s easier to roll out.

So, another year with no NaNoWriMo for me. Best of luck to all who are participating, maybe next year I’ll join you…


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A Caboodle of Fancy Words from The New York Times

I love how The New York Times embraces the web with their online version of the paper. Apparently, they have a function on their site where if you double-click on any word, a little question mark pops up. Click on this and you get a definition of the word from American Heritage dictionary. They’ve recently compiled the top 50 terms that were looked up, along with some interesting tidbits on how many articles and op-ed pieces the word appeared in, and how many times the word is looked up per use. They’re own interpretation of the results are on their blog.

All around, it’s fascinating stuff, more than just a good excuse to expand the vocabulary. As their blog post points out, a good number of the words are foreign, and the word with the most lookups per use–baldenfreude–was made up. Does this mean that the AHD will be forced to add this word if folks keep using it? Or does it just show that made up words need to do a good job of letting readers know their invetisimos?

Looking through the list is a reflection of the times. Profligacy and profligate made the top five. I had to look it up too, but yup sounds like bankers to me. Overhaul is the most used unknown word with 605 references, no big surprise there, except maybe that it’s on the list. We must all know what it means by now. Austerity places fourth, definitely one of those words not heard much a year ago, but encountered on just about a daily basis now. But what about obduracy? Is that some remnant from the Bush era? Ubiquitous comes in second for most used unknown word, with 168 references. Does that mean that the word itself is now ubiquitous? Soporific, one of my favorite arcane words, was only used twice. My hunch is it was probably in reference to a book by one of them literary types.

Here’s a wordle of the whole caboodle:

Wordle of Fancy Words from "The New York Times"

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