A Novel in a Month?

Well I did it. I signed up. Or I reupped. National Novel Writing Month. I tried it last year. Got to about 6000 words before I ran out of gas. But that story didn’t have legs. I didn’t really think it was sustainable for 50,000 words.

But this year was different. I was sitting in Starbucks before Church on the Sunday morning before November first and that old familiar sentence popped into my head. ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ From that came a couple of paragraphs and from that came a story, one that could actually support something novel length.

So I started November first. And I quickly found out that an idea does not automatically generate 1,700 words a day by itself. I can only spend maybe an hour and a half to two hours writing. I get antsy after that. Even now I’m sitting in my chair constantly on the verge of getting up and turning on the TV even though there’s nothing on. Someday (maybe) I’ll be retired and I’ll have all the time I need. Even then I know I will have to exercise some discipline to really write something 50,000 words long.

But right now? Right now I’m stuck on 6,262 words. At this point in the month I should be at about 17,000 words. So I won’t hit 50,000 on November 31. Still I think I’ve got a story that would work. Maybe at three months. I should keep plugging. It’s just that there’s so many distractions. With apologies to the memory of C. S. Lewis…

The three imps were bunched up together, elbowing each other, jockeying for the best view.

“Hold on. Hold on. Let me look. What’s he doing now?”

“He’s writing.”

“Well we can’t have that. We’ve got to stop him.”

The oldest and tallest, the senior one, snorted. “You guys don’t know anything. We want him to write some. We want him to get a taste.”

“We do?”

“Sure. We want him to get a taste of what it’s like to be obedient to the call of… Him.”


“Our enemy. His creator.” He nodded to their quarry.

“So we let him write.”

“For a little bit.”

“Then what do we do?”

The other one spoke up. “We distract him.” He looked at the senior one, nodding his head, seeking approval.

“That’s right. We distract him. What shall we use tonight?”

“An earache?”

“An earache. That would work.”

The first one jumped up and down with glee. “An ear infection. A full blown ear infection.”

The senior waved his hands and shook his head vehemently. “No no no. We don’t want to make him sick. If we make him sick he’ll go to bed and just lay there perfectly content in his sickness. We just want to make him feel bad. Just bad enough to hinder his concentration to the point where he can’t write. Then we’ll get the two for one.”

“Two for one?”

“He won’t be writing, won’t be doing what our enemy is encouraging (how I hate that word) him to do but at the same time he’ll feel guilty that he’s not.”

The second imp’s eyes rolled back in head in ecstasy. “Guilt. Oh how I love that word.”

The first imp got a mischievous gleam in his eye. “I love the smell of guilt in the…” He saw the scowl on senior’s face and decided not to finish.

Senior cleared his throat. “I’ll tell you what else we can do.”

“Isn’t that enough? This will defeat him for tonight.”

“But why not take care of tomorrow night too while we’re at it? I’ll tell you my favorite trick. Wake him up at two o’clock in the morning. Plant a thought in his head. Something at work that he should have done or that he could have done wrong. Some financial worry. A funny noise in his car. It doesn’t have to be anything big. At two o’clock in the morning little things can become big. After a sleepless night he will be so physically and emotionally wiped out he won’t be able to write tomorrow night. See that’s how you do it. Pile one thing on another. Build the pressure. But don’t forget one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Leave him little gaps. Let him recover once in a while.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Here’s our goal. We don’t want to annihilate him. Our goal is to let him see what can be but never let him actually get there. Remember death is not the goal. The goal is impotence.”

Imp number one had turned back to their target for the night. “Sir I think you need to look at this.”

All three turned their attention back to the man. He was still writing.

“How can that be?”

“What about the earache?”

Senior was slowly and carefully backing away. The other two followed suit.

“When I give the word I want you turn and run like your life depended on it.”

The two whispered in unison. “What is it?”

“The Holy Spirit is in the room.”

They said it together. “Run.”

And they did, tumbling and scrambling, none them wanting to be last to leave the room.


About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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