By Brian Newlin


…The spectre floated before him, holding a towering stack of mismatched Moleskine notebooks. The expensive kind.

“Oh spirit, why do you carry so many notebooks?”

“These are my unfinished novel and screenplay ideas! In life, I carried them in my mind, but in death, they haunt me still! You have just as many, do you feel the ponderous weight of them?”

He looked down, expecting to see his own pile of abandoned work.

“Oh, wait, that’s right, you use a Macbook Air,” the spirit groaned, “But mark my words, soon the charging cord will be obsolete!”

“I don’t believe in you, spirit! You are nothing but an indigested bit of cheese, a fragment of Totinos Pizza Rolls, some of that weird kombucha!” he cried, pulling the LL Bean fleece blanket up around his ears.

“Hear me! Tonight you shall be haunted by three Spirits!” said his former writing partner’s ghost.

“Tonight? But the new episode of Westworld is on!”

“TIVO IT!” the spectre bellowed.


… “Why, it’s me! Look! Look how young and thin I am!” he exclaimed.

“Yes. This is you, years ago,” said the Ghost of National Novel Writing Month’s Past. “The light of creativity still shines in your eyes, does it not?”

“I think this is right before I received my first rejection letter.”

“That explains it. Now, behold!”

The writer watched as his younger self rose from the desk and went towards the kitchen. The sound of the chip bag rustled, and the clatter of dishes insinuated that many snacks were being prepared in the other room.

The writer and the Ghost peered at the flickering screen of the bulky Macbook.

“It’s a good start,” the Ghost sniffed.

“I know! I mean, it’s rough, but I remember loving that idea. Why did I not finish it, Ghost? Tell me! Why?”

The unmistakable chime of the Playstation powering up wafted through the air. With a defeated shrug, the writer followed the Ghost towards the waiting open window.


…The writer glanced through the window of the rear bedroom at himself earlier that day.

“And how does his novel go?” chortled the Ghost, his great flowing beard filled with many Post-It notes.

“I’m not sure, he seems to be writing something. Maybe it’s something decent, he seems amused with himself. If nothing else, he’s typing pretty enthusiastically- oh. Wait. Hold on. He’s back to Ebay again. Never mind.”

The Ghost threw his head back and laughed. “Yes! That is the way of it, so many distractions and excuses! You could turn off the internet, you know.”

“But what if I need to look up something, like the definition of ‘widdershins’? Or if I get an email back from agent?” the writer asked.

“Oh ho ho! Yes. Because that will totally happen, I’m sure.” the Ghost replied, smiling. 

“Maybe I should try going to one of those cool writing retreats, where authors hang out in an idyllic farmhouse or cabin and write and do supportive critiques of each other’s work. I hear they’re inspirational and great for networking with publishers.” the writer sighed.

“Those are for people with  incooOOOOooomes!” the Ghost replied.

“You’re kind of a dick, aren’t you.”


… Still the Ghost pointed towards the gravestone.

“Oh no, Spirit! No No! That’s me, isn’t it? Tell me, Spirit!”

The towering, ghastly hooded figure pointed again at the gravestone, then at him, then back to the gravestone. It seemed pretty annoyed to have to explain this.

“Oh God, it was all the Totinos Pizza Rolls, wasn’t it? I shall change, Spirit! I shall honour NANOWRIMO every November of the year! This I swear!”


….”You! My fine fellow! What day is it?” the writer called out into the bustling street.

“Today? Why, It’s November the first. And I’m totally calling the cops if you keep yelling at random strangers, mister.”

“It’s the first day of November! I haven’t missed it! The Spirits have done it all in one night! Hello! You! Uber Eats driver! Bring me the largest, finest pizza in all the town! I must write!”

The writer scrambled back onto his couch, until later that day when he went to a coffee shop and wrote there for a while as well. He wrote his novel, and maybe started a new screenplay outline if he had time. It may not have been the best novel, and it may never get that publishing deal he ever dreamed of, but his own heart read it, and that was quite enough for him.

(But seriously, a publishing deal would be pretty great too)



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2 responses to “A NANOWRIMO CAROL

  1. I vow on this day the seventh of November to faithfully write every day…well not Every Day…because you know…stuff happens…but I will MAKE UP those days in December – because that is typically a “slow” month with no extra obligations (???!!!!)….or maybe I’ll just copy and past your post 50 times? Is that 50K words?

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