This post is a salute to the writers participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’m not, alas, one of them. (For me, a good week’s output is is 6,000 words on the work in progress. I know, I know, for some of you, that represents a day’s effort. )
One of my favorite bloggers on writing is British author Matt Haig. In a recent post, he shares what he’s learned over twelve years as a published author. Number 11 speaks to me: “We like stories because time moves us forward, when what we want to do is move sideways. We want to live every possible life, not just ours. Stories are how we can window shop other possible lives without committing to them. They teach us everything.”
As you gulp coffee to fuel your NaNo-inspired writing frenzy, think about the post you’ll write when you’ve been published for twelve years.
Haig’s number 19, though, worries me: “Being published makes you paranoid. Bookshops stop being bookshops and start being ‘Writers Doing Better Than Me Shops’.” Oh, no-o-o-o! Let’s not lose our love of bookstores. To ensure we don’t, here’s a GIF-happy list of reasons we love bookstores. (NaNo writers will be able to visit a bookstore on December 1. On that happy day, you will order a latte, sink into a comfortable chair, and congratulate yourself on jumpstarting a novel and maybe a career.)
Before the month’s over, NaNoers will curse the work in progress many times. That’s normal, so push past self-doubt. Next month, before you settle in to revise, read agent Joelle Delbourgo’s post on common reasons editors turn downfiction manuscripts. Your December task is to make sure your revised novel doesn’t give editors a reason to say no.
Sadly, the laundry doesn’t do itself during NaNo, the day job’s demands continue, and someone has to vacuum. To add insult to injury, kids expect dinner to appear on the table sometime between five and nine p.m. Every night.
Here’s an easy and quick recipe to the rescue. A friend gave it to me the year our kids were peddling jars of salsa as a Future Farmers of America fundraiser. (Turns out Texans are picky about salsa, and most families already have several jars of their favorite kinds in their pantries.) We FFA parents ended up buying a dozen or so jars apiece and needed ways to use it up. I’ve since learned this recipe in famous in some circles. Here goes:
Salsa Mac and Cheese with Beef
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
16 ounces salsa (Me, I like salsa with a chipotle kick and medium heat. If you have picky eaters, try a mild salsa. If you like it hot, go for the fieriest salsa you can find.)
2 cups water
7 ounces elbow macaroni
I-2 cups cheddar, grated. (It’s NaNo, for pity’s sake. Buy a bag of already grated cheese. If you’re a Velveeta fan, cube a quarter pound of it.)
1.) Brown meat in large skillet. Drain.
2.) Add salsa and water. Bring to boil.
3.) Stir in macaroni.
4.) Reduce heat; cover. Simmer 8-10 minutes, or until macaroni is tender.
5.) Stir in cheese until melted.
Serves four to six
Happy writing and eating!