You didn’t used to mean anything to me. You were a tired month of nothing in particular, the one that came before Christmas and the New Year. You were a month to be got through with the hope of holidays not too far off. By the time I reached you, the year had already gone on too long.
Now you are so much more.
November, for me you are a month of words, thrown in big handfuls at the page, messy and often surprising. I love to watch your progress bar creep forward with each word count update I make (and I make sure to update my word count frequently).
November you are a month of coffee and chocolate and red wine and frozen meals, because these things are necessary to my creative process. You are a month in which I gain weight (oops) while becoming more properly who I am. In November the only sprints are word-sprints. You are a month in which I am REQUIRED TO STORY. Whatever else I do is just a thing I do. In November the story is the thing that matters.
November, you are a month in which I find lots of other people all over the world to share this crazy idea that the story is the thing that matters. I hear snippets of their stories too, which are diverse and fun and strange and unique, in every genre and style and voice imaginable. And which, guess what, are getting written! As fast as they can be!
November you are a month in which I discover new places to write. I sit in public libraries with a bunch of strangers and write words onto my laptop. I sit in cafes and pubs and people’s houses and write. I write at my kitchen table. I write on the bus and in my lunch break and in my dreams. And I write so fast and so hard that the story and characters seep into my bloodstream and never really leave.
November, you are a month in which I reminisce with the friends I made the very first time I found you, back in 2012, about the Novembers past, and the stories we wrote or failed to write or perhaps are still writing. I love those friends. When I met them I felt like I’d met my people. And you gave that to me.
I cannot thank you enough.
November, I love you, but I’m scared. The last time I saw you, things were a bit crazy. My story was a mess. And I think we both said things we didn’t mean. I know it can never be like it was the first time. I’m different now, my life is different. I have a baby. I have almost 200 pages of a novel that I just can’t put aside. I have a blog, of all things. For a while I thought, maybe I’ll just forget you, pretend you’re just like any other month, let my life roll on undisturbed.
But the thing is, I don’t think I can do that. I’ve come to count on you to give my year some spark, to let me feel like I’m part of something wonderful, while doing what is sometimes the loneliest thing imaginable. I’m not ready to let you go.
So here’s the way it is. I can’t start anything new right now. Please don’t take this personally, it’s just how it has to be. There’s a story in my life that’s important to me, and I have to keep it going. My word count might be slower, I probably can’t go to bars or all night write-ins. I might actually only get out of the house to write once or twice.
And November, please know that if it doesn’t feel quite as amazing as it did that first time, it isn’t because I love you any less but because you’ve helped make each of my months better: more productive, more creative, more connected. You’ve given me habits and goals and friends. You’ve helped me realise what I can do and now I just can’t stop doing it, whatever month it might happen to be. And truth is, some stories just take longer than a month.
Still, November, I really, really, really can’t wait to see you again.