3 - 2- 1

And so we've arrived at the final countdown. The last few days of November are waiting.

How's it gone? Here in New England it is the evening of the 26th. The supermarkets are crammed with turkeys, and every conversation focuses on how far people intend to travel for Thanksgiving. My mind rests upon how this month has gone for everyone. Did you make the progress that you hoped for? Did you conjure the words, or edit the words, or polish the words to the extent that you planned at the start of the month?

And the thing I wonder about most, as we visit this little cafe that sits in the cloud, is how our target-setting and aspirations have affected our writing practice.

I will be the first to confess that I have struggled. Those first few days when I found time to write for an hour and work on my opening chapter were soon lost: I was preparing for my GRE examination, drafting my applications for university admission, chasing down pieces of paper which evidenced the marks and levels of my previous education. To be honest, it could have been anything. It was a series of those moments when real life interrupts one's writing - familiar to all of us, I am sure.

In the middle of the month, I felt as though I had fallen off the bandwagon and I watched with envy as emails arrived explaining how well it was going for other writers. But I scrambled and floundered and snatched at words, doing my best to reestablish a kind of writing practice.

And I found it. My first chapter - my goal for this month - has not been fully written, but it has segued into a short story which has taken me in directions I had not expected. And my commitment to my writing practice has resulted in:

  • a concretization of some of the major characters in my book;
  • a short story set in Vermont about social disengagement, the recession, and gun ownership;
  • a personal statement and the collation of a manuscript for my university application;
  • and a renewed sense that as a writer I am not alone. 
The last of these is the most precious. I can visualize Linda Dawn writing at her desk in Toronto; I can hear Sara's voice offering guidance from her home in Spain; I can imagine Dale working in Cardiff and Jan finding her pen in California and so many other members of our community who are scattered across the globe and who come together in this place because of their interest in writing. 

I hope that you'll feel able to comment on how it's gone: to drop me an email, to comment on this post, or send a message via our Facebook page. Our successes - that determination to snatch some time, to find some words, to write - is worthy of celebration. Despite all that November has thrown at us, we're still writing, we're still wanting to write, we are still writers. 

Enjoy the rest of the month (and, if the mood takes you, eat turkey). 



  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I set the goal of writing 53 more pages of the rough draft of a new novel. I've written about 20 new pages and revised some of the old ones, to a total of 20,000 words. The quantitative challenge has been interesting, but I've also enjoyed doing some research, plotting out what might happen in scenes, walking around town admiring the golden leaves and looking for possible settings, in general dipping my toes into the parallel universe of a new novel during this very beautiful autumn. Thanks to the Cafe baristas for setting this chalenge.

  2. I set myself the goal of spending 1-2 hours a day working on my novel. Looking back now, I can see that that was a little over-ambitious considering that I am getting ready to move house, jobs and country at the end of next month! However, I am pleased to report that although I did not work on my novel as I had planned to, I did write quite a lot of flash fiction this November, spurred on partly by the Cafe Aphra challenge and partly by an online course I started in January and am determined to finish by Christmas! I also discovered that at the moment Wednesdays are my best writing day - because I have my lightest teaching load that day - and I write best in the afternoon. I did a little editing on my novel and a lot of editing of flash fiction and short stories. I feel like I understand better what makes a piece of flash fiction (i.e. a very short story) work or not. I hope to enter a few more competitions this week. I have also been inspired by receiving some long-awaited (and beautiful) illustrations for a children's story I wrote a few years ago, and am considering picking that draft up again and dusting it off..... So all in all I can't say it was an unproductive month of November, and even if I didn't stick to my original challenge, I do feel like I'm a (slightly) better writer now than I was a month ago!


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