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October 2006

Another list

Got my mind on NaNo, not wanting to *really* write right now.

Probably a bit too old for this one, but it looked like fun.  And I'm trying to work out this end of DST thing.

Also, I didn't change the first few answers. They were just what I'd want them to be.

1. The phone rings. Who do you want it to be?
I want email.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
80% of the time.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?
I chat equally one-on-one but I say nearly nothing in any group bigger than that.

4. Do you take compliments well?
Yeah, I think so.

5. Are you an active person?
In warm weather.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
If it wasn't cold.

7. Do you like to ride horses?
Yes.

8. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Only music camp. It doesn't quite count.

9. What was your favorite game as a kid?
I kind of don't remember. I did crafts a lot, and read books, more than played games. Facts in Five, maybe.

10. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was married, would you get involved with him/her?
Hmm.

11. Are you judgmental?
Mostly not. People like to say we all are, but I don't believe that, actually.

12. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
Depends which ones, and how important they were to that person. If they were, it would not work.

13. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
Both.

14. Can you speak another language?
I can read basic French, and know tidbits of various others.

15. If you had to choose, would you rather be deaf or blind?
When would this be a choice and why?

16. What's your favorite food?
olives. or bread.

17. Do you know how to shoot a gun?
not really.

18. If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
computer.

19. How often do you read books?
every moment possible.

20. Do you think more about the past, present or future?
depends. right now, future, I suppose.

21. What is your favorite children's book?
There are too many to choose from! I'll just say The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper. But really, too many.

22. What color are your eyes?
hazel

23. How tall are you?
5' 6 1/2"

24. Where is your dream house located?
I don't know. I haven't been enough places. Next to the sea, though.

25. Last person you talked to on the phone?
the man

26. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
maybe.

27. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?
summer, I think.

28. What are your keys on your key chain for?
car key, van key, two door keys

29. What's your favorite color?
again with the favorites. periwinkle

30. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?
living room.

31. Where is your current pain at?
i have a headache

32. Do you like mustard?
Yes. mostly the brown, texturey ones.

33. Do you prefer to sleep or eat?
sleep.

34. Do you look like your mom or dad?
yes. Oh, which? both, with mom's coloring.

35. How long does it take you in the shower?
to do which? okay, okay, 5-10 minutes.

36. Can you do splits?
snort.

37. What movie do you want to see right now?
don't know. several, i think.

38. Do you put lotion on your dog or cats?
uh? no?

39. What did you do for New Year's?
watched TV with kids

40. Do you think The Grudge was scary?
what is that?

41. What was the cause of your last accident?
car? none to speak of.

42. Do you own a camera phone?
yes.

43. What are you drinking?
gin, rose's lime, seltzer

44. Was your mom a cheerleader?
no

45. What's the last letter of your middle name?
e

46. Who did you vote for on American Idol?
never saw that.

47. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
about 8

48. Do you like care bears?
i guess so.

49. What do you buy at the movies?
I bring stuff in. the more exotic and hard to eat in a movie theater, the better.

50. Do you know how to play poker?
yes

51. Do you wear your seatbelt?
yes

52. What do you wear to sleep?
different stuff

53. Anything big ever happen in your hometown?
all kinds of things. it's a major metropolitan area

54. How many meals do you eat a day?
2-3.

55. Is your tongue pierced?
no

56. Do you always read MySpace bulletins?
no

57. Do you have pets?
yes

58. Do you like funny or serious people better?
funny

59. Ever been to LA?
no

60. Did you eat a cookie today?
no

61. Do you use cuss words in other languages?
nope

62. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads?
pay

63. Do you hate chocolate?
nope

64. What do you and your parents fight about the most?
don't do that.

65. Is your cell usually on vibrate or ring?
ring

66. Are you a gullible person?
possibly

67. Do you need a boyfriend/girlfriend to be happy?
i really wouldn't know. probably not.

68. If you could have any job (assuming you have the skills) what would it be?
the one I have

69. Are you easy to get along with?
generally

70. What is your favorite time of day?
late evening, depends on the season.


book list

No real reason to do this; it just seemed like fun. I got it from Laura's Vox Blog; she's in my neighbor list to the left. I have no idea who compiled this list or why they made the choices they made. I have read 63 of the 100 listed.

What I should do is make a list of books I think everyone "should" read, and why.

Instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read in the future, cross out the ones you won't touch with a 10 foot pole, and do not do anything to the ones you've never even heard of.


1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride And Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4 Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (JRR Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (JRR Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (JRR Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix JK Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (JK Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (JRR Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)    
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) 
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)

36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)

41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Gift & Award Bible NIV (Various)

46. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb
)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52.  A Tale of Two cities (Charles Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JRR Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brahares)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)

79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Michael Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)


QotD: Today's Top 5

Books, movies, music; what's in your top 5 right now?

Let's see...these won't be favorites, just what I'm into at this precise moment.

Books, currently reading Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen, and The Game by Laurie R. King, and a few old issues of Post and LIFE. My favorites of those are the Astronaut's Wives issue of LIFE, dated September 21, 1959, the July 17, 1965 issue of Post, which has Sean Connery on the cover, and the February 5, 1965 issue of LIFE, which features Churchill's funeral.

I haven't had much time for movies lately; here's what at the top of my Netflix queue:

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

Rio Bravo

Onegin

A Fine Madness

The Dinner Game

Music, this and that, as usual. I've been trying to track down some of my favorite disco/funk hits from 1978-79, and always have the lounge-jazz thing going. And I got the new Weird Al recording.


Vox Hunt: What I Love About Vox

Photo, drawing, video, screenshot: show us what you love about Vox.

Well, mostly, everything is so simple, so elegantly-designed, so utterly user-friendly. My only complaint is that my music files don't show their images, even though I personally added them all myself on my hard drive. Also, I like the neighbors. I'm not even social, but it's pretty cool the way people are just interested in each other here, and add you to their neighborhood. I'm a little concerned about how that will be for the future, but it might work out all right.




QotD: What I Love About Vox

In honor of Vox's launch tomorrow, what's your favorite feature or aspect of Vox?

Well, uploading music is super cool. Inserting items is cool. The way the comments work is cool. The QotD, Vox Hunt, etc., are super cool.

It feels intimate right now. That may be what I love most about it. There is a really good, positive vibe here. I sincerely hope that continues somehow when it goes "public."

This place is everything MySpace wishes it was.

The day before I discovered Vox, I reuploaded 3 years' worth of Blogger posts, and so I've been reluctant to just move my normal blog here. If I'd discovered this first, there'd be no question.

So I decided my Vox page would be where I do my free-style creative writing, and that I'd use the QotDs for prompts sometimes. It feels special this way.


QotD: All My Computers

How many computers do you have in your house? 
Submitted by Foomper.

short answer: 2 during the week, 3 on weekends, 5 if you count the ones we don't use. It's a Fibonacci thing.

The kids have a G5 iMac, I have a G4 iBook, the LP has a G4 PowerBook, and there is a bondi blue iMac in the basement, don't really remember why we gave up on it, except it was too slow for OSX, and I also have a G3 PowerBook, which is in a permanent coma. I think it's the internal power unit. I've kept it because there are stories on it that could be extracted if the hard drive were put into something that works.


QotD: Good On A Cold Day

Cafe Borgia:

put one or two shots of espresso in a large mug, then pour a cup of hot chocolate made with milk over it. top with a layer of whipped cream. then grate some orange peel directly over it, so that a bit of the orange oil falls into the cup along with the peel.

I think you could make it with half strong coffee, half hot chocolate, if you don't do espresso.

and believe it or not, this drink is also delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon added along with the orange peel, or in the hot chocolate or coffee as it's being made.


Today's NaNo prompt

A dreaded sunny day, so I meet you at the cemet'ry gates...

I'll be back later to work on that, and also with a list of more prompts that are probably more prompt-ish for other people. :-)

there was no time to write today. :-(

But here are a few new prompts we came up with today over our house lattes at Panera. The internet ones were really all just too dreary, once confronted head on.


a) Really bad service at your favorite Sunday morning haunt.

b) This morning you had to tiptoe around, getting dressed in the dark. Emerging out into the sunny street, you discover a "problem."

c) A sudden realization of extraordinary beauty in a previously mundane situation or setting.

d) An episode in which you are convinced you just met your doppelganger.

e) For some undetermined period of time, no more light bulbs can be manufactured. In the world.


QotD: My First Kiss

The short answer: May, 1981, Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri, one week before my 16th birthday. And his name was Mike.

I met him at a debate tournament. I was not a good debator, though I did learn to give speeches well. But anyway, we met just before my first debate, when I was so nervous I pulled a button off my dress. It was my mom's dress, actually, because I didn't have a suitable one of my own. He was to be the timekeeper for that round, and was so utterly confident, trying to help me relax before the other people came into the room, making jokes, telling me about people on the other teams. I don't remember much else. I'm sure I did a lousy job at the actual debate, though.

That was in late fall, I think, and then I met him again at another tournament in February. That day I remember better because the high school was right behind my grandmother's apartment, in Independence. It was the day my parents' divorce was finalized. And it was a Friday, 13th. He asked for my phone number, which no boy had ever done before. I mean, all the ones I knew at home thought I was a dork.

I was breathless waiting for him to call. All I could really remember about him was that he was about my height, had a very low voice, and smelled good. He had light-colored hair and green eyes. And he seemed muscular.

I think it took him about 6 days to call, and we talked for awhile--I certainly have no idea what we talked about. Then he called again 6 days later. That time we talked for hours. We talked every few days after that for many weeks, but only saw each other briefly at a couple more tournaments. Neither of us could drive a car, and we lived about an hour apart. And his mother was very strange about allowing him a social life.

Anyway, our first real date was in late May. He had turned 15 in April, and I would turn 16 the first week of June. We met at the entrance of Worlds of Fun, and I can't remember how nervous I was, but I'm sure it was insanely so. So I was probably quiet at first, and he probably talked a lot at first, in that giddy manner he had, about his three sisters, and school, and the wrestling team. We spent the day there, which was likely too much for a first date, but we didn't even know when we'd get to meet again. At the end of the day, when time was short, we sat on a bench near the exit and talked yet more. He leaned in to kiss me just as I turned, and so caught just the corner of my mouth.

I can't say it's something I've never forgotten, because I do not remember it well. But I remember the mood, and how I felt afterward, wishing there could be a little more, not knowing when we'd see each other again.

We saw each other as much as possible over the next 2 1/2 years, but never got to have a normal relationship, and by the time I started college I badly wanted a change. Well, was being prodded by others to seek change, as well. I went about seeking it badly, but looking back, there really wasn't a good way to achieve a healthy breakup, because we didn't have normal dates; each one was a big occasion. So during one of those big occasions, I hurt him deeply, and hurt myself as well. I've often wished I could have managed that differently, or that I didn't have to then. I'm sure we grew up to have absolutely nothing in common other than some quickness of mind and wit, but it needn't have ended as it did, when it did. Or maybe it did; I guess I really can't say.


Shut up, you annoy me

For some reason, I wasn't able to post at the BBC's Have Your Say today, regarding this article, but I wish I could respond to some of the remarks.

To a man in South Africa: America is too diverse, just my home state of New Jersey is too diverse, comprised of over 80 ethnic groups in a range of wealth, education, environment, and background, for you to say we're all alike, that we all have a single agenda, that we all have our heads in the sand. Stop knocking what you don't know. We've had horrible presidents before, I dare say we'll have some again in the future. You wouldn't know anything about such governmental troubles, would you?

As to a man from Germany, saying we don't know what is going on in the world, well, it's clear you really don't know what's going on here. You only know what you're told, and it's unwise for you to believe that's all there is, just as it would be unwise for me to assume that because your country has a history of being uncomfortable with diversity, everyone there looks alike, only eats starchy vegetables, and would still like to run Europe. The truth is, we only hear the worst news about each other, not the good. Because the worst that happens is what news organizations choose to report. And if there weren't a whole lot of good, this wouldn't be the most diverse place on earth, because no one would want to come here. I'd like to also assume that if there weren't a whole lot of good in your country these days, more people would have left it by now.

Blanket statements do no one any good, and only serve to demonstrate ignorance or a lack of logic.


Wacky Cake maven

There are all these wacky cake recipes or "vegan chocolate cake" recipes I see online that are really not quite right. Mostly they don't have enough cocoa.

Here's as close as I can come to how my mom made it. It was good right out of the oven, and great the next day. You also don't have to make it in a pan and poke three holes in the dry ingredients. Seriously.

Mix together:

3 c flour
2 c sugar
2/3 c cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

in a bowl, or in your ungreased 13x9 pan if you insist; I think that's a pain, and I don't mind washing one bowl.

Then make a well (one will do) in the dry ingredients and add:

2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Then pour 2 cups of cold water over that, and stir. You can stir it by hand for two minutes; you don't need beaters. If you mixed it in a bowl, pour it into the pan, and bake at 325 for 45 minutes or a little longer, til the top springs back when you touch it.

Icing is overkill if you make it this way with enough cocoa, but a dusting of powdered sugar is nice. I'm going to make this tomorrow, and if I make any last minute alterations, because I am capricious, I will report on that. :-)

Her lemon square recipe, which I've posted before somewhere, is also better than most of the online ones for the same reason; she amped up the lemon juice. Sometimes more really is better.


QotD: This Week's Top 25

What are your top 25 most played songs? 
Submitted by Cooxie 

Okay, now I really am going to have to go get real writing prompts. This isn't cutting it. But let's see...

This is not a reflection of what my current favorites are, but of my insistence on using shuffle too much lately.

If I Were A Bell    Count Basie  
Help Yourself    Tom Jones 
All That Jazz    London Theater Orchestra And Chorus  
Baby Elephant Walk    Rene Touzet  
Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley Remix)    Max Sedgley & Sarah Vaughan  
The Best Is Yet To Come    Frank Sinatra   
This Guy's In Love With You    Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass 
Let's Get Lost    Chet Baker  
They Can't Take That Away from Me    Ella Fitzgerald & The Paul Smith Trio   
Cocktails For Two    Keely Smith  
Underdog    Toon Tunes: 50 Favorite Classics
Speed Racer   Toon Tunes: 50 Favorite Classics
Don't Rain On My Parade    Bobby Darin
Soul Bossa Nova    Quincy Jones 
Spaceface    Simple Minds   
Strangelove    Depeche Mode   
Strawberry Fields Forever    The Beatles   
Sway     Dean Martin
Take Five    Dave Brubeck  
The Walk    The Cure   
Don't Dream of Anybody    Bobby Darin  
Never Ever    All Saints   
White Rabbit   Jefferson Airplane
Wipe Out     Fat Boys
Look Away    Big Country


Oh, who can say?

I was busy for the past 3 hours or so, telling myself, be sure to write that down when you have a few moments.

What that was, I really can't say.

But randomly...

Since I was transferring website stuff, I didn't do any more weekly writing challenges, so now I'm going to do some very short daily ones, and post them at emily sears. So there's that.

Oh! If you've been mulling over horcruxes again lately? We're thinking there might be a clue on page 116 of The Order of the Phoenix. And if that means nothing to you, carry on. Well, except, it's clear that Sirius being unable to remove the family tree tapestry from his wall is going to prove crucial. All right, as you were.

Finally, for the moment, I don't think I like this Google purchase of YouTube. But maybe they'll finally tell me why they think I'm 44. I've been getting the same ridiculous irrelevant answer from YouTube for about 10 days. I think they've sent me over 10 responses, all with the same pointless document that doesn't answer my question, and when I correctly respond to say, "no, this did not answer my question," complete with the same details each time, I get the same document back in my mailbox as a response. It's getting tiresome and making me sad. All I wanted to know was how to change how old they think I am. How hard could that be?


NaNo Countdown Prompt #1

Small talk has been stolen.

    "Our top story tonight: Reports are now coming in from all over the tri-state region confirming that small talk has, indeed, been stolen, by an as-yet unknown perpetrator. Port Authority officials have beefed up security at exit points around the city, and all area airports have been alerted to watch for anyone who talks far too much to everyone around him, while managing to say absolutely nothing. It should be noted that no one with whom the thief makes contact will be able to respond, unless he introduces a subject that requires more than a shallow or thoughtless reply. Not even perfunctory responses will be possible until small talk is found and returned.

"Here's Jim with our first look at the weather; Jim?"

"Uh..." Jim found himself mouthing the words, "Yes, Becky, it's raining cats and dogs out there tonight," but no sound came out. He stopped short, and gave a brief report of what to expect overnight in the city. Then he looked blankly back at Becky, realizing it would be useless to attempt their usual pre-commercial banter. He just shrugged.

Becky looked into the camera and spoke, "We'll be right back with more."



You should write a book

Here are some excerpts from the FAQ at NaNoWriMo.

Why 50,000 words? Isn't that more of a novella?

Our experiences over the past seven years show that 50,000 is a difficult but doable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. The length makes it a short novel. We don't use the word "novella" because it doesn't seem to impress people the way "novel" does.

How do you define "novel?" Does fan fiction count? What if I want to write interconnected short stories rather than a novel? What if my story is largely autobiographical, or is based on a real person? Can I still write it in November?

We define a novel as "a lengthy work of fiction." Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you're writing falls under the heading of "novel." In short: If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too.

Why are you doing this? What do you get out of it?

NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.

Part of the reason we organize NaNoWriMo is just to get a book written. We love the fringe benefits accrued to novelists. For one month out of the year, we can stew and storm, and make a huge mess of our apartments and drink lots of coffee at odd hours. And we can do all of these things loudly, in front of people. As satisfying as it is to reach deep within yourself and pull out an unexpectedly passable work of art, it is equally (if not more) satisfying to be able to dramatize the process at social gatherings.

But that artsy drama window is woefully short. The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self. We like that.

Is it true there's an official guidebook to NaNoWriMo?

There is! Director Chris Baty compiled all of his tips, tricks, and caffeine-intake strategies in a book called No Plot? No Problem! Along with Chris' long-winded ramblings, the book also contains eloquent, sage, and hilarious tips from NaNoWriMo veterans, who should probably know better by now.

Do I have to start my novel from scratch on November 1?

Yes.

This sounds like a dumb, arbitrary rule, we know. But bringing a half-finished manuscript into NaNoWriMo all but guarantees a miserable month. You'll simply care about the characters and story too much to write with the gleeful, anything-goes approach that makes NaNoWriMo such a creative rush. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate, and you'll tap into realms of imagination and intuition that are out-of-reach when working on pre-existing manuscripts.

Does that mean I can't use an outline or notes?

Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

Can anyone participate in NaNoWriMo?

No. People who take their writing (and themselves) very seriously should probably go elsewhere. Everyone else, though, is warmly welcomed.

If I'm just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?

There are three reasons.

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives.