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NaNoWriMo Hand Wringing

When I went to my first NaNoWriMo Write-In, an old hand at NaNoWriMo, on hearing that I blog pretty much every day said I would be in good shape for NaNoWriMo. One of the biggest problems is simply getting into the habit of writing something every day. It reminded me of what so many people have said about the discipline of writing. Between blogs and emails, I do write everyday. This month, I’ve written at least one blog entry every day. I’ve written at least one section for my novel everyday. A few days, they were short of the 1,667 word goal, but most days they have been well ahead of the goal.

Over on her blog, purplecar writes that the Nanowrimo theory is not working for her. She says she is very serious about writing a novel and doesn’t want to waste her time writing crap. Will NaNoWriMo be a good use of her time?

Well, I too hope that someday, I will write the next Great American Novel. It would be wonderful, in so many ways, if my current effort turns out to be that, but I’m dubious. I guess I come back to the old advice, hope for the best (Great American Novel), prepare for the worst (an incomplete pile of drek that I delete from my harddrive), and be satisfied with whatever comes.

So, where does the NaNoWriMo theory fit in? Well, I guess there are a couple different thoughts on this. Writing is both a discipline and a love. It is sort of like marriage, and I remember an old philosophy professor once quipping, “It isn’t love that keeps marriage together, it is marriage that keeps love together.” It is the discipline to return to the object of your love when they or it has disappointed you, or when you have been the disappointment.

So, I keep returning to my novel, on the days that I cannot type fast enough, as well as the days when I’ve already brushed my teeth six times. When I do show sections to friends, I point out that it is a very rough draft of a first write through and mostly ask for further ideas about my characters and the plot.

Will it work? The past couple of days were slower, more challenging, but I cranked through. Other days were wonderful and the words wouldn’t stop. As I write this post, I have 22,918 words to go to reach the goal. I still worry about running out of storyline, but I’ve got some great ideas coming.

So, hang in there my fellow NaNoWriMo writers. The discipline is worth it.

The State of Student Free Speech

Last Thursday, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, sponsored a discussion at Quinnipiac University School of Law concerning “The State of Student Free Speech”, particularly as it relates to the Avery Doninger case. I grew up in Williamstown, MA, and frequently would go to events at Williams College, so it was great to see Avery at the discussion, following the topic at least as well as many of the law school students there.

The discussion started off with a welcome from Brad Saxton, Dean of Quinnipiac Law. This was followed by a great exposition of the issues by Professor Emeritus Martin B. Margulies. Prof. Margulies has followed the case closely, having filed an amicus brief in the initial hearing as part of the Connecticut ACLU, and for the hearing before the Second Circuit, as a member of the American Constitution Society.

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NaNaWriMo and Autumn Leaves.

The past few days, I’ve been spending a bit of time off line. I’m still managing to get at least one blog post up everyday, and get at least 1,667 words of the novel written each day. I’m holding my own on the never-ending influx of emails. So, it doesn’t feel like I’m making any headway, but it doesn’t feel like I’m losing ground either.

Yesterday, Fiona and I went for a hike in the Naugatuck State Forest. The day before, we went with Kim to Sperry Falls. Both days, Barley came along for a romp in the woods. (See our photos on Flickr.)

Apparently we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of a beautiful fall weekend to take our dogs for a walk in the woods. Heather, whose blog I found via MyBlogLog took her dog, Lily for some walks in the Ohio foliage.

But perhaps these autumnal strolls are good for the writing anyway. Yesterday, I received a NaNoWriMo ‘pep talk from Sue Grafton’. In her email to all NaNoWriMo participants, she writes of her dreams for her novels,

The pacing will be relentless, yet the story will ebb and flow in a manner that will produce both thrilling surprises and quiet moments where the reader can reflect on what's gone before.

This weekend was filled with quiet moments of reflection, and it showed up in the sections of the story. I’m that the pace will quicken before I know it.

Operation Lysistrata

My earliest memory of Aristophanes’ plays was reading a copy of The Frogs, which my older brother had. Other than the crude jokes early on in it, I don’t remember much. Years later, a friend in college produced a modern adaptation of a Greek play as her senior project. I don’t recall if it was Aristophanes. I seem to remember it using large puppets, having a Greek chorus, and I having something to do with sex and war.

Was it Lysistrata? I don’t know. However, this week, people around Fairfield, CT will have a special opportunity to see a production of Lysistrata, or perhaps more accurately, a documentary about the Lysistrata Project.

In January 2003, two women in New York City, Kathryn Blume and Sharron Bower, thought to organize readings of the ancient Greek play by Aristophanes, Lysistrata, as a protest of the imminent preemptive war on Iraq. Originally conceived as a local event, however, over the course of a several weeks, word of the Lysistrata Project quickly gained momentum and became a worldwide happening for peace. On March 3, 2003 over 1,000 simultaneous productions of Lysistrata were performed in 59 countries around the globe.

The film "Operation Lysistrata" shows how two women transformed their individual aspirations for peace into a movement which allowed the global community to share in their vision, using grassroots activism, conflict resolution, community building and the role of art in a functioning democracy.

There will be a screening on Monday, November 12, 2007 at The Fairfield Theatre , 70 Sanford St, Fairfield, CT at 7:30 PM. It should be a fun evening. It makes me think of the great quote attributed to Emma Goldman, “If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.” If our political activism, even on matters as important as trying to stop a senseless war, can be filled with fun and art, then I worry people will burn out to quickly and the efforts will fail.

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Donna Hudson and Avery Donninger

Today, I received an email pointing me to a letter in the Waterbury Republican. I haven't seen the letter; I'm not sure if it is online. However, the email summarizes it and asks me for my thoughts. I thought I would publish them here.

In the Waterbury Republican today (11-10-07) is a letter to the editor on page 6A that makes a good point. It was written by Donna Hudson of Harwinton. She says that Avery D isn't in trouble for calling school administrators a foul name. Instead, she's in trouble for inciting a campaign to harass them and disrupt school. It further says the newspaper reporters failed to thoroughly research the incident. What do you think?

I replied:

Donna is partially right. I do believe that Avery was punished for encouraging parents to contact members of the school admininistration concerning the way facilities at the school are used. Most significantly, it was an embarrassment to Superintendent Schwartz who had already been criticized for the way the school administration was handling facitilities.

Yet to encourage citizens of a town to speak with the school administrators about how school facilities should be used should not be considered harassment and disruption, it should be considered civic duty.

Likewise, Donna is correct about newspaper reporters failing to thoroughly research the incident. If they had, they would be up in arms and writing good investigative reporting pieces in the local papers about the principal of the school, testifying under oath that she instructed school officials to place false information in students records.

If that was properly investigated and reported on, people would be wondering about what is in their children's records, and calling for a full investigation, possible criminal proceedings and the immediate removal of those involved.

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