“NaNoWriMo” Authors Create Best-Sellers!

nanowrimo-winnersBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Last Wednesday at Morning Meeting we were treated to a wonderful “feel-good” celebration for our students who finished their participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This intense writing project, spearheaded by 7th grade language arts teacher Julie Mushkin, lasted the entire month of November and ended with impressive results. Here are some highlights courtesy of Julie: 

Our NaNoWriMo students are now authors! In 30 short days, our 21 Middle School participants completed the daunting NaNoWriMo challenge with extraordinary success. At 11:59 p.m. on November 30th, our Wyvern Writers classroom closed, and we are proud to report that with five hours remaining, our group had already written 353,707 words. This far surpassed their collective goal of 312,000 words, and translates into approximately 1,400 written pages.

nanowrimo-winnercertificate-2016The students’ rewards for their effort were announced at Morning Meeting after each writer shared his/her book title and a brief synopsis with their Middle School classmates. While some of the details are still being finalized, here is a breakdown of what our writers are receiving as tokens of congratulations, thanks to very generous donors and the SFS community:

  • A free, printed copy of each book, courtesy of Butler Books, which will be perfect bound and professionally typeset! Families will also be able to buy additional copies of the books to share with relatives.
  • A SFS Wyvern Writers t-shirt and an official “NaNoWriMo Winner” certificate to commemorate this achievement.
  • The opportunity to attend a writer’s lunch. This will happen during school at a local restaurant and will be free for the students.
  • Carmichael’s Bookstore donated 51 books to our NaNoWriMo writers. The writers each selected two free books.
  • School librarian Lindsy Serrano is purchasing a copy of each of their books to keep in the Library for the rest of the SFS students to check out! The writers’ fellow students are very excited to start reading their works.
  • I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST! Award-winning New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton has generously agreed to meet with our writers! She is currently in California completing the next installment in her alphabet series (Y), but upon her return in April, she has offered to sit down with the students to discuss the writing process. They will all have their books in their hands by this time and will be published authors. This is undoubtedly going to be a life-changing experience! Thank you to Alexandra Thurstone for helping to arrange this amazing opportunity.

I would also like to thank for the following businesses for helping with this noble project:

  • Butler Books for not only generously offering to typeset all of the novels, but also for gifting all of the students with a free printed copy of their finished book.
  • The employees of Teespring for supporting the Wyvern Writers’ authorship accomplishment by providing a custom “SFS NaNoWriMo Winner” t-shirt to every participant.
  • And Carmichael’s Bookstore for donating over 50 books for our authors to enjoy and help further their love of the written word!

And how did our students feel about devoting a large portion of their spare time to extra “schoolwork” in the form of creative writing?

NaNoWriMo was one of the most amazing things I have partaken in. I got to get out all of my ideas in a 67-page book. It really pushed me to be a better writer and to never stop until you reach your goal. I couldn’t have done any of this without my family or teachers, but it was so fun to work on this and get to know everyone else participating. I will make sure to keep writing and look forward to next year!” – Piper Shiflet

“NaNoWriMo was a fun, challenging, and enlightening experience.” – Will Caudill

I really like NaNoWriMo because it let me find my creative spirit in a way other than art. I didn’t think I would even be able to reach my word goal and I ended up getting 10,000 more! I’m glad Ms. Mushkin offered this because if she hadn’t, I never would’ve really done anything like this. I never really liked writing or reading until I came to St. Francis, so I’m really happy that me and my friends get a chance to do NaNoWriMo.” – Josie Cooley

And I want to thank Julie (and colleague Patrick Donovan) for providing this extremely rewarding experience to our students too! In the same way the students committed themselves to innumerable hours of extra time spent on writing, she also took on a new project and shepherded it to a phenomenally successful finish. She also worked hard on procuring wonderful “rewards” for our kids – but I think the true rewards were earned all those nights they burned the midnight oil creating their books. Bravo to each and every one of you!