My first introduction to NaNoWriMo was not auspicious. I was teaching a novel writing class at night and one of my students kept handing in manuscripts that didn’t have contractions. Plus there would be lots of extraneous little words in her pages. It. It. It. Finally I said to her, “For Pete’s sake, why don’t you use contractions?” And she explained that she was doing NaNoWriMo (in which you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November). She needed to bulk her word count. “I see,” I said, thinking that that sounded like a colossal waste of time in order to get a really bloated manuscript.Years passed. Then, I had a deadline ahead of me. It happened to be November and I thought, why not give this a try? Maybe it will inspire me to write quickly. That was three years ago and after that I was hooked. This year I’m working on a draft of Maggie Dove 3.What I love about NaNoWriMo is that it forces my mind to go in unexpected places. The fact is, I probably write 1,700 words a day anyway, but usually I’m revising things. Trying to make things perfect. Or good, anyway. Shuffling things around. With NaNoWriMo it all comes out fresh, and often I surprise myself.At the start of November, which was only two weeks ago, I had one sentence in my mind about what I thought this new Maggie Dove would be about. Now I have 21,000 words and it’s all so different than I anticipated. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. When November’s done, I’ll go through my NaNoWriMo draft and break it into scenes. I’ll throw out pages. Or store them away for something different. I’ll expand on other things. But, the great thing is that now I know who the characters are, who the murderer is, why it’s done, how it’s done. I have something solid to grapple with. Thank you, NaNoWriMo and see you next year.