Writers attempt to complete a novel in one month

Participants+of+NaNoWriMo+are+attempting+to+write+a+50%2C000-word+novel+in+a+month.+The+idea+is+to+write+about+1%2C500+words+per+day.+

Andres Martinez

Participants of NaNoWriMo are attempting to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. The idea is to write about 1,500 words per day.

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

Today’s culture is infested with television and web searches. It seems today, the majority of writing comes by way of social media, where users express their feelings at that moment. Reading books is seemingly being replaced by reading tweets
and online articles.

November is National Novel Writing Month, a challenge that provides an outlet for writers to sit and brainstorm with others enthusiastic about the art of writing.

Participants of NaNoWriMo are attempting to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. The idea is to write about 1,500 words per day.

While serving one of his two tours in Vietnam in the 199th light infantry with the U.S. Army, Merle Burbaugh was on duty in Long Bang Town, located in the Guangxi province of China. He was a guard on duty and it was raining when his thoughts began to circulate. He began to write about how aliens controlled the weather. With no paper, he found some brown toilet paper and began to write. Once completed, he wrapped it in an envelope and sent it back to his mother in the U.S. This was the first creative writing he had done.

His “We Were Legends” novel is his most famous. It is a science-fiction comedy story about an astronaut who crash lands on a planet and most likely may never retrace his way back home. A witty sense of humor adds to the likability. Among his other books are “Circle of Seven” and “The Bounty Hunter.”

He has been retired since 1988, but continues to write. Before the crack of dawn is when Burbaugh, who is 69 years old, likes to begin his writing.

“I like to write about things that are impossible. I get these weird ideas, I write them and send them out,” Burbaugh said. “Anybody can write, not everybody can write well. It doesn’t hurt anybody to sit down and write.”

Burbaugh has 11 books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, including four in print. He particularly likes writing science fiction.

“My most active writing time is from 2 to 8 in the morning. Then I’ll edit what I have until noon and then it’s time to go to bed,” Burbaugh said.

He has been part of the NaNoWriMo El Paso chapter for a number of years and now participates on a support basis for other writers.

While working on the second year of her master’s degree in social work and interning with the U.S. Army, Sara Polk is also the municipal liaison of the El Paso NaNoWriMo writing unit. November can prove to be extremely hectic for Polk.

This is her second year in charge, she finds NaNoWriMo extemely helpful considering the work she does at her internship.

“In working with military personnel, there’s a lot of talk of grief and trauma,” Polk said. “A lot of social workers don’t have that outlet to work through that. It winds up being a separate outlet of how I get through things for myself.”

Two years ago, Polk was planning her wedding. She used NaNoWriMo to channel her thoughts about getting married by writing about a woman who was going completely insane trying to plan her wedding.

“It was a way to not focus on the big scary thing that I did not want to think
about,” Polk said.

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected]