I was at Walgreen’s the other day and they already had an entire aisle stuffed full of Halloween candy and decorations. For me, this represents another reminder that fall is here. Living  in the Bay Area, we don’t see the spectacular fall foliage that unfolds in other parts of the country. Out here, some of the leaves change but for the most part, they fall to the ground without offering any inspiration or visual content.

By Halloween, there’s usually a definite change in the weather. The days get cooler, and the night temps drop into the forties. Brr! (That’s considered cold here and yes, we’re weather wimps.)

I’m not sure if it’s more social conditioning or tradition, but with each change of the season, I have my list of things to do.    

1. Buy embarrassing amounts of Halloween candy for my soldier care packages and the estimated three hundred trick-or-treaters that descend upon our neighborhood. (Yes, people stare at my cart when I’m in the checkout line.)

2. Start shopping on-line for Christmas gifts. If I can’t get it on-line, you don’t need it.

3. Exchange emails with my sister and cousins to see who’s hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Start thinking about holiday care packages and USPS mailing deadlines.

5. Clean out the furnace filters.

6. Go through the recipe file and the stack of foodie mags I haven’t read all year in search of new and interesting dishes for the holidays.

7. Buy ladyfingers in huge quantities to make tiramisu for Christmas. (Why are ladyfingers so hard to find?)

8. Grumble about the number of holiday catalogs arriving in the mail.

8. Talk myself out of doing Nanowrimo.

9. Feel guilty because I’m not going do Nano.  

10. Think about doing Nano.

Four years ago, I completed my first Nano competition with 56,000+ words with my Nano buddy and friend, Ellice. I was amazed I’d written two hundred pages in less than thirty days…two hundred pages of a story that read in a coherent and linear fashion. 

Last year, I didn’t think I’d make it. I was at 46,000 words with one day to go. I pulled an all-nighter, something I haven’t done since college. With the clock ticking down, I had a terrible craving for chocolate, and of course, there was no chocolate in the house. I stopped typing and made brownies. Crazy? Uh huh. But it was just what I needed. While I measured and mixed, I found inspiration. As they baked, I tapped out two more pages. When the oven timer went off, I had a thousand words to go.

I poured myself another cup of coffee and pulled the brownies from the oven. And while the brownies cooled, I limped across the goal line of 50,000 words. I was fried, but I managed to upload my word count on the Nano site. Afterward, I stumbled upstairs and fell in bed, luscious chocolate brownies forgotten.

Okay, so what about you? Will you participate in Nano this year? It’s a terrific way to exorcise the story that’s been milling around inside your head. Think of it as a thirty day writing sprint. (Eh, maybe not.) Nano begins on November 1st, so there’s still plenty of time to think about it.

If you do decide to participate, be sure to let me know. We can be Nano buddies….offer each other encouragement, cyber chocolates, and exchange recipes for legal stimulants.

Here’s a link to the official web site:  http://www.nanowrimo.org

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