30 days and Nights of Literary Abandon.

“Are you crazy?” Is usually the response I get when I mention I’m taking part in November’s National Novel Writing Month’s seat-of-your-pants, writing extravaganza.

The idea is simple. Write a 50,000 word novel in one month. The idea maybe simple, the actual writing not so. However thousands of people, including myself, take part every year. Nanowrimo , as those in the know call it, inspires thousands to take part – last year over 200, 000 people writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.

It’s easy to sign up, and free. Just register at http://www.nanowrimo.com – you can post profiles, exerts from your novel, make friends in the online community and off you go. You upload your novel as you go along and the word counts are validated as you submit copy. There is plenty of encouragement: regional forums; local events you can attend as well as podcasts and inspiring blogs on line.

1667 words a day. Nobody says it is easy, but it is fun. You have to lock away that inner editor and just create, enjoy and write, write, write. It’s a fantastic discipline. Obviously, if you are successful and finish the 50,000 words by midnight on November the 30th you can’t just post your effort off and get published. Rewriting will need to take place and for some, this has been successful. Rachael Herron’s novel How to knit a Love Song was recently published and Sarah Gruen’s Flying Changes, was even a New York Times bestseller. Other published books include Rebecca Agiewich’s Breakup Babe, Dave Wilson’s The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, and Gayle Brandeis’s Self Storage.

For teachers hoping to inspire their students there is a young nanowrimo programme http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ and a Nano U for University students http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/nanouniversity. The young writers programme allows 17-and-under participants to set reasonable, yet challenging, individual word-count goals.

They say everyone has a novel in them. Well, let nanowrimo be your guide.

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Reflections on Amy

I wanted to reflect upon the tragic death of Amy Winehouse, a singer whose brilliance burned too bright exposing the fatal flaw of addiction. Amy was a tragic heroine, the warnings were there  – sadly too often in the form of expensive doctors who don’t understand that addiction is a mental illness. Curb your drinking Amy! Somehow missing the whole point that drives addicts – their addiction is beyond their control. It reminds me of teachers who tell dyslexics to Watch your spelling. The clue is in the label. We wouldn’t tell a deaf person to Listen harder! Yet for addicts there is a sense in the public psyche that they brought it on themselves and it is their will power that is at fault.

Many will have heard of the Twelve steps to recovery used by Alcoholics and Narcotics anonymous.  A look to the first of the 12 steps may help glean an understanding of the disease that is addiction. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Unmanageable may be an understatement in the public, media fuelled perception of Amy’s case. Chaotic, shambolic more like. But it is in the powerlessness  – I drink therefore I am that is the crux of the illness. Addicts exist only to serve their addiction.

However does this absolve the addict from responsibility? Of course not. It should not absolve them from the compassion and care either that often is so sadly lacking.  It’s not like Amy didn’t try to recover and in the full glare of the media’s often unforgiving eye. Amy’s was a well-publicised and desperate battle with drink and drugs abuse.

So is it hopeless for the millions of people locked in the bitter grip of addiction? Recovery does happen. Whilst the world doesn’t understand addiction, somehow self- help groups such as AA and NA do get results.

 Sadly for Amy, her recovery moment never came.  The madness claimed her and the myth of the tortured creative genius still abounds this time in the insanely romanticized 27 club or the girl who just rock and rolled too hard.  In reality, Amy is just another dead addict, another life wasted to this killer disease.

In education – what can we do?  How many of the students in our care are the offspring of addicts and coping with this disease silently, every day? How much support, compassion and care do we offer them? It is a question worth asking.

The National Association of Children of Addicts (NACOA) estimate there are nearly one million children under 18 who live with an Alcoholic. A sobering fact.  These children often feel responsible in someway for their parent’s drinking – so who helps them?

There are web-sites and groups like AL-ANON family support that can help but demystifying addiction and having honest and informed discussion is always a good starting point.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Reeceducation blog. I am hoping to include some thought provoking blogs as well as creative ideas.

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