The Week in Books 2009, No. 38

A friend of mine signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) thing, which intrigued me. I was so intrigued that I decided to read No Plot? No Problem!, written by the guy who came up with the crazy idea of writing a novel in a month.

And it is completely crazy to try to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel in 30 days, right? Books like this are probably really annoying to full-time novelists. I think the real strength to the idea of NaNoWriMo though, is that it challenges you to overcome the excuses you give yourself for why you’re not writing. It gives you a deadline and permission to turn off your inner editor and critic and just put something down on paper. Reading the book, I was surprised at the fact that actual writers and novelists use this method sometimes to shake themselves up – but I guess that makes sense.

If you like to read about writing, or if you need some motivation to write, or if you think you’d like to write at some distant point in the future when lightening strikes your brain (“I think you mean ‘epiphany’, Smee”) and you have the perfect literary masterpiece, this book might be for you. If nothing else it’s entertaining and inspiring.

Since y’all know that what I really need in my life right now is yet another time consuming hobby, it has crossed my mind that maybe I ought to do NaNoWriMo myself. It would be the month of November. The thought of writing something in a month appeals to my characteristic style of flash-in-the-pan creative endeavor. Something to ponder. I’ll let you know what I decide.

The Orchard: A Memoir is a posthumously published memoir of a Radcliffe-educated woman who left her life in academia to try to save her family’s apple orchard after her father died. The father had left the family in a bad financial situation and the Depression had just begun, so Kitty, the author, lived alone and put in incredible back-breaking labor to try to keep the farm viable.

I thought The Orchard was a remarkably well-written memoir, and quite instructive about the reality of life during the Depression. Along the way I also learned about bees and the apple business (at least as it was back then), which I found really interesting.

I would not say that this book is uplifting, as one commenter on Amazon oddly opined, but it was engrossing and I admired the author for her dedication and spunk. I’d recommend this book if you like memoirs, or are interested in New England or Depression history.

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