The Inklings of George Fox
Reported by Jessica Daugherty
In the attic of Coffee Cottage, up a narrow staircase of creaky floorboards and dusty windowsills, there is a small attic room. Posters scatter the ceiling, covering the wood paneling underneath, and Christmas lights brighten the dim room. A large table is in the center with multiple computers and notebooks on top of it. George Fox University (GFU) students are furiously typing away at the keyboard or scribbling down notes, but they are not working on homework. They are working on something bigger.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an effort endorsed by a worldwide non-profit organization that takes place during the month of November. The challenge, should participants choose to accept it, is to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. That means 1,666 words a day for the whole month of November. Their mission statement reads: “National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”
A group of GFU students have chosen to accept this challenge, but they aren’t tackling it alone. They have formed a writing cohort that meets twice a week in the Coffee Cottage attic. Armed with caffeine and ideas, they provide support to each other and companionship on the
otherwise isolating task of writing.
Sarah Ellis, a sophomore at GFU, helped organize the writing cohort. “I think what inspired me is feeling a lot of seclusion in previous years when participating by myself in NaNoWriMo. I thought it would be so much fun to have a group of people who would be equally struggling in this marathon of writing” she said.
Ellis is working on a fantasy, young adult novel. She is building a magical world full of adventure and romance but has added darker elements examining the human condition of greed and questionable motivations. “I think it would be really interesting to see, especially if you had the option to use magical powers, how far you would go,” said Ellis.
While Ellis plans on meeting the 50,000-word goal, she hopes to get so invested in her work that she can push it past the month of November.
The challenge is to write a novel in a month but not all participants are doing so. Hannah Lee, a sophomore at GFU, is writing short stories and essays with a goal of 500-1,000 words per day. Lee recalls how she came into NaNoWriMo unprepared last year, causing her not to meet the 50,000-word goal. This year she has changed her perspective.
“I realize that the whole purpose is forcing yourself to write every day so you get in the habit of writing, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Lee said.
The goal of the cohort is to celebrate their accomplishments in the writing process. They strive to create a supportive environment that fosters creativity. Even after NaNoWriMo ends, the group plans to continue meeting to help each other edit and get published.
“We really want to be a supportive group of young authors, who can lean on each other so we don’t feel like we are going through this journey alone,” said Ellis.