To kick off this blog, I’m celebrating not one or two, but three writing-related holidays. November 1 is National Author’s Day and National Family Literacy Day, both. of which seem to have garnered only a small amount of attention in the media and blogosphere. However, thousands of people are celebrating the third holiday: the kick-off for National Novel Writing Month, a non-profit initiative that encourages people to write a 50,000 word novel from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. Nanowrimo is in its 11th year, and according to the website’s history page:
The very first NaNoWriMo took place in July, 1999, in the San Francisco Bay Area. That first year there were 21 of us, and our July noveling binge had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twentysomethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.
I tried Nanowrimo once while in college. I failed abysmally to finish a story about a struggling writer. Hmm. I’m trying again this year, though I may struggle to stay committed to both Nanowrimo and The Holidaze.
Anyway, back to National Family Literacy Day. I stopped home yesterday to collect some stuffed cats and a fugly jacket for my Halloween costume (Crazy Cat Lady–it was tremendous). My mom has steadily been converting my old bedroom into a library, and her latest efforts have been in setting up white bookshelves along the walls. I guess you don’t realize just how many books are lurking under your bed, in your closets, on the kitchen table, etc., until you see them displayed somewhat orderly on shelves. I grew up in a house with a lot of books. A lot. All were purchased by my mother, the only reader in the house (besides me). In addition to her bookworm tendencies, she is also an avid rummage sale hunter, and the two interests have resulted in a formidable book collection, mainly of women’s lit and, to a lesser extent, literary fiction along with dozens of garden books, food-related books and other non-fiction.
My book interests lean more toward drama and literary fiction, so our tastes don’t always match up. However, my mother knows how to find books that do appeal to me, so going home is often like raiding a bookstore, and yesterday was no different. I returned to Madison with a stack of novels, including Julie and Julia and several Barbara Kingsolver novels. (And since I now possess almost all of Kingsolver’s works, I think I’m covered for National Author’s Day!)
Without my mom as an example, who knows if I would have gotten into reading, and by extension, writing. Most definitely, her willingness to buy books and have books around helped. I think one strong family member who is willing to support reading, even against protests that stacks of books create a lot of clutter, can make a difference toward the literacy of an entire family.
So that’s my story for National Family Literacy Day. Thanks, Mom!