National Novel Writing Month — I jumped in with sisterhood

I did it. I signed up to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Partly, I did it because I’m writing a new novel, The Romantics Club, about two half-sisters who inherit a cottage in Italy and along with it, the ghost of the poet Shelley.

I wanted something to distract me from two inevitabilities: death, this one my beloved brother’s; and waiting to hear about my completed manuscript, in this case from agents who are reading the whole thing. Death and patience — of course they seem so similar. Grief and creativity — who knew they could be aligned.

But I’m writing my way out of grief. The more I feel sad, the more I turn to the blank page and find it blossoming with places I want to go (always Italy!) and people I want to know more about. Sisterhood is a topic in which I can explore my feelings of having been a sister. It makes me cry to write “having been” but I guess I still am a sister to my brother, and to my sister-in-law and a few close friends. Sisterhood fascinates me.

As a child, I always wanted a sister because it seemed like that would make me less lonely. I read about girls I would have like to have as sisters: Dorothy in the Oz books and Nancy Drew. The little girl in Miracles on Maple Hill, and all those fantastic sisters in Little Women.

I now belong to an organization called Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a number of those novelists are participating in NaNoWriMo.

Half a million books will be written in this month — astounding statistic. Mine won’t be finished because my Muse can’t be rushed. But the experience feels — sisterly. And that’s a wonderful feeling right now.

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