Every November for the past couple of years, I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, a world-wide challenge that people take on to write a novel from beginning to end, all in thirty days. This incredible, crazy program is a word-sprint that encourages writers new and old to put away their inner editors and write with abandon for a whole month. NaNoWriMo is now its own nonprofit run out of Berkeley and they have amazing resources for teachers and educators to run it in their own classrooms. I’d tried to encourage kids in Brightworks’ first and second years to write, but there was little interest. Oh well.

But this year, I was thrilled to hear the enthusiasm for the project when I mentioned it in October at morning circle! And I was even more excited with a couple of the collaborators decided that their whole bands should participate and write too! During October, we all sat down together and talked through our fears about setting off on a novel-writing adventure and planned out our characters and plots. There was a lot of pep-talking. There was a lot of encouragement and easing of fears and “You can do it – really”s.

And now it’s November. The seventh of November. And just when I was starting to wonder if this project would really get off the ground and the kids would come through on their word count promises… they did. They have been writing with a fury and an excitement that I haven’t seen about a writing project at this school. As a writer myself, it makes my heart sing to see so many good ideas and big ideas and small ideas come out from these kids’ brains and onto a piece of paper or typed into a google doc. They’re writing! And the best part of it is – they’re really liking it.

A few of the kids were willing to share pieces of their work:

She walked up the stone steps, through the little vegetable garden, and passed the chicken coop finally reaching the door. – Frances

Harry the hamburger was just waking up when his bottom started to burn! Harry danced with joy he was being grilled!! – Norabelle

Quinn would like to report that his story is about robots who play football, and Ben says his story is about skateboarding and a kid who loves it.

When they got on the train it was dark and wet. Nobody was smiling, just of the thought of it kind of sends chills down my back. Drips of water falling silently in the dark shadows of the depressed people. The people looked like tall statues in a desert. – Lola

Natasha says her story is about the big changes in the life of a girl and her family when her father dies and she gets a stepfather.

Altaira was exhausted! But she had to stay up five more minutes! – Audrey

So far, the Brightworks writers (about 25 of us) have written more than 38,000 words… and counting.