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National Novel Writing Month Competition Draws To A Close

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Stephen King has stated that a first draft of one of his novels takes about three months to write. George R. R. Martin, however, spent six years drafting the most recent volume of his series A Song of Ice and Fire. And J.D. Salinger spent an entire decade writing The Catcher in the Rye, allegedly averaging just twenty words per day.  But since 1999, hundreds of thousands of people across the world have put their skills to the test to pump out 50,000 words in just a month, in a competition called the National Novel Writing Month.

The National Novel Writing Month, colloquially referred to as NaNoWriMo, takes place annually during the month of November. In the first year, it consisted of just twenty-one aspiring writers near the San Francisco Bay area. It has grown exponentially in popularity since then, and in 2017, 306,230 writers participated. Over 34,000 of those people went on to become winners, meaning they successfully drafted at least 50,000 words of a novel by 11:59 PM on November 30th.

As the contest’s population has grown, its platform and visibility have expanded to fit. The official NaNoWriMo website provides goal trackers and personal statistics for authors to follow their novel’s progress, as well as a web of various forums and buddy systems to inspire support and connection.

National Novel Writing Month logo depicting authors’ preferred writing tools. This shield was designed along with the creation of the current NaNoWriMo website in 2003. Taken from nanowrimo.org.

So what happens on November 1st of every year? Every novelist’s story is diverse and different, but the main method of distinguishing a writer’s style is by their self-designation as a “planner” or a “pantser”. You will find planners carefully consulting their pages of notes and chapter outlines, structuring how much they aim to accomplish in that first thousand words. Pantsers, on the other hand, will sit down on Day 1 with nothing but a blank page and an open mind. And while the vast majority of writers embark on the very first words of their mission, a small percentage of competitors choose to write “anything but a brand new novel”, as the official website states, in order to gain access to the pointless yet highly desired “NaNo Rebel” badge. This initial designation is only the beginning of a journey that, contrary to the name, doesn’t confine itself to November alone.

Writing 50,000 words of a fictitious novel in just a month likely still seems like a daunting task only offered to previously accomplished writers. However, the National Novel Writing Month contest offers just one goal, and it is to put 50,000 words on a page. These words are intended to be a first draft. The following months of January and February, nicknamed the “Now What” months, are later allocated for revision and editing, and they tend to be when authors begin to transform their stories from wobbly first drafts to edited, finished manuscripts. In this way, this time is the unsung heart of the NaNoWriMo experience.

“As of November 2018, my manuscript was half-baked and pretty terrible,” a NaNoWriMo participant under the pseudonym of Eliot Carson said about his writing experience. “January and February were when I got to really perfect the writing and themes. It doesn’t end at the start of December.”

The official National Novel Writing Month season is soon drawing to a close, but the official website provides resources and support that inspire participants to keep writing year-round. In the eyes of the NaNo community, there is no failure; there is only trying and doing.

Climate Change Sparking Controversy Among Students

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Climate change is a contentious topic in today’s tense political atmosphere. However, nearly 30% of Glen Allen High School students polled informally say they are unfamiliar with the issue.

Talk of climate change first began in the 1800s, when French scientist Joseph Fourier theorized that the earth’s atmosphere could trap carbon dioxide, potentially creating negative effects for the environment. Over the years, this theory has gained more traction as we have begun to notice more pronounced man-made consequences on our natural habitat such as longer and more destructive wildfire seasons and rising sea levels. Today, climate change is recognized as a shift in natural climate patterns due to an increase of fossil fuel-created carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a statement estimating there to be approximately 20 years to save the Earth from global warming’s permanent consequences. These long-term penalties include the communities and habitats devastated by rapidly-rising sea levels and atmosphere temperatures, as well as a drastic loss of genetic diversity among living beings all around the world. We have seen these changes especially in this year’s abnormal weather patterns, including an increase of tropical storms in the Western Hemisphere and the third significant Saharan snowfall in 40 years.

Graph of global temperature recorded from 1880 to present day. Image taken from Phys.org.

The IPCC’s warning, just one in the midst of many others, has sent many people into a frenzy, and the issue’s relevance has seen a dramatic boost in recent years. “I think that it’s one of the world’s largest problems, and I think that it’s too late to stop it, but we have time to reduce the effects greatly,” Freshman Alex Van Marcke said.

So how can we help? It is important to acknowledge that an estimated 90% of contributors to carbon dioxide emissions are large corporations, and that the only way we as a society will be able to stop climate change is by these major companies reducing usage of harmful resources.

If you want to make a difference in your own life, experts from NASA recommend taking small steps like using more public transportation, using compact fluorescent light bulbs in favor of incandescent light bulbs, and turning off lights or electronics when you are not using them. According to a survey taken of Glen Allen students’ opinions on climate issues, 6.5% of students polled are already fighting climate change with actions like these, and 45% of students are currently considering it. A single person’s actions won’t be able to make a significant change, but the effects of climate change can be lessened if enough people stand out.

Staff

Adviser: Melissa McLamb
Co-Editors: Elaina Coviello & Maggie Nuckols
Section Editors: Lauren Baugham & Morgan Deckert
Photography & Graphic Design: Bailey Steele
Social Networks: Jamison Crenshaw & Claire Bernard
HoGA: Emily Bickford & Oscar Gamez
Interactives/Monthly Flyer: Ashleigh Russo & Kelly Riggan
Writers: Kaylee Bagley, Cassie Coughlan, Paxton O'Brien, Sara Beth Stansberry, Brian Fadool, & Joshua Holtzman