Aurora Public Library Blog

Welcome to Aurora Public Library’s blog. A place where our library staff share their thoughts, insider knowledge and overall love of all things book and community.

Feel free to comment on posts, re-blog and enjoy. To ensure a civil and focused discussion, comments will be held for a brief period before being published.



Recent Posts
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Create It!

Create It! Mandalas
by Karen

In this video, Karen shares how to make a beautiful mandala wall hanging - perfect to spruce up any space! #LibrariesCOnnect

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 30, 2020 at 1:28 PM
  
Create It Pets

Keep a kitty stress free! Learn how to create a partial cage cover for your traveling cat or a shelter kitty.  In partnership with the Aurora Animal Shelter.

Learn more about the Aurora Animal Shelter and how you can donate to support their mission at AuroraAnimalShelter.org.

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 25, 2020 at 10:03 AM
  
NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month: November In Review
By Elizabeth, Stacy, and Justine

Hi, library friends and patrons! How’s writing going? Whether you have 500 words or 50,000, the next literary masterpiece or a heap of confused rambling about feng shui, we’re proud of you: it’s been a tough year, and any writing feels like an accomplishment.

Aurora Public Library’s librarians and staff have been all over the board for National Novel Writing Month, too! Some of us rebelled, while others stayed loyal to NaNo’s official rules; some hit word count, while some didn’t. Check out our writing journeys below.

Elizabeth: The Sleepy Rebel

Did you know that voice-recording your story before bed has THREE big advantages? True story! Check out some of these Highly Recommended Writing Moments:  

1. “...I might be falling asleep? I can’t remember what I just said” will always get a laugh out of your writing friends if you let them listen to your ramblings (or when they make you share)  

2. Nothing says “surprising plot twist” like “I must have been falling asleep here, because now? There's a giraffe, and maybe a love confession, and now this is a mafia story.”

3. Most importantly, sleepy mumbling means extra words means extra word count! I went from 30k to 40k in ONE LONG VOICE RECORDING

Thanks to voice recording, this year, I might actually finish NaNoWriMo! Sounds fake, right? I’m shocked, too, but besides half-asleep mumbling, here’s what I really did to succeed:  
 
· I chose to write little stories instead of one big one,
· forgave myself for wandering off-topic,  
· took advantage of APL’s writing sessions,  
· and offered to show my writing to a great weekend writing buddy and fantastic writer (which, of course, inspired desperate rewriting and increased my word count because company’s coming, vacuum the paragraphs and hide the semi-colons, we can’t let people know we live here).  

Most importantly, writing has provided a welcome distraction from this year's background hum of holiday worry and existential dread, and it’s given me lovely characters to spend time with all over again: from pirates to, yep, sleep giraffes. 11/10, would NaNo again.

Now, I gotta go: this recording’s kind of muffled, but it sounds like half-asleep-me just tried to make a butterfly duel God, and I’d better type fast to make sense of that in the light of day.

Stacy: The Dreamer

This was finally the first year I was able to participate in NaNoWriMo without simultaneously writing a Bachelor’s thesis besides it. Ealy-2020's Stacy thought this was the year to πŸ‘Get πŸ‘ It πŸ‘Done. πŸ‘ Late-2020's Stacy realizes that was just fool’s hope.

What I expected 2020 NaNoWriMo to be:
· Wake up at 6:30am 9much earlier than my usual schedule)
· 15 minute writing warm up
· Write for 20-30 minutes before work
· Come home and do a 15 minute writing warm up
· 1 hour - ? Until I reached the days word count

What 2020 NaNoWriMo was:
· Wake up 15 minutes before I need to leave the house
· Work = busybusybusy, gogogo
· Come home and write for 30 minutes before having to start dinner and eventually pass out.  
· More Or Less

Things That Went Bad? Reaching word counts and creating a reasonable schedule.  
I thought being done with school would help me get closer to beating NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t factor in the exhaustion from adjusting to a full-time post-COVID schedule that wiped me out every single night. Nor did it help that I was constantly shifting my story ideas.  

Things That Went OK? Out of six short stories, only one feels worth continueing.  
Rather than write one long novel for NaNoWriMo, I opted for a similar approach as I did last year and wrote a collection of short stories. Out of my collection of half finished short stories, only one am I really drawn to. It’s an untitled short story about the disappearance and murder of girl in a small farm town – I like to thank my love of horror films and my own less than stellar experiences growing up in a small town as inspiration!  

Things That Went Good? Weekend writing sessions.
My work week was atrocious. I thought being done with school would help me get closer to beating NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t factor in the exhaustion from adjusting to a full-time post-COVID schedule that wiped me out every single night. Nor did it help that I was constantly shifting my story ideas and leaving stories half finished to pursue a new one.  

Typically my weekends have much more productive! On an average weekend, I would write for maybe 2 or 3 hours a day. Was it enough to catch me up? No. Was it enough to keep me from feeling like I was completely drowning? Sort of – only almost completely drowning. Sadly, I was never anywhere close to reaching a daily word count nor am I anywhere at all close to the 50,000 words.  

Things For 2021? No more short stories.
I find that I get so focused on writing everything perfectly the first time that it prevents me from getting far enough to really make any dents. Somehow for 2021, I need to work on writing without that focus. I need to be able to let loose and let the writing flow, whether or not its “good.” For 2021, I need to take a lesson from the other’s writing experiences. Maybe try to do more Sleepy writing sessions with a voice recorder like Elizabeth?

While I think the official rules for NaNoWriMo states that you’re supposed to write one novel for the entire month, without picking up from a story you’ve already started - I can already tell you that unless inspiration really strikes me, I will probably use 2021 NaNoWriMo to expand on the short story I liked from this year instead.  

Justine: The Comeback Kid

The first time I won NaNoWriMo was back in November of 2010, as a senior in high school. I finished it between homework, extracurriculars, and college applications. Once I began actively pursuing my dream of becoming a writer, I assumed I’d win NaNoWriMo every single year thereafter, but I was sorely mistaken. In November of 2011, I was several months into my freshman year of college and was struggling to keep up with my peers. I wrote every chance I got, but I was too stressed to continue. I didn’t write past 10,000 words.  

The year after, my creative writing professor dealt a major blow to my confidence. “You don’t got it, Justine. Whatever makes a good writer, you don’t got it.” I was devastated. My professor was suggesting I change my major and give up on my dreams of becoming a renowned author. Although I didn’t heed his advice and I continued on with my degree, and earned it, writing was no longer my passion. I couldn’t stop seeing every error, every plot hole, how vapid and one dimensional my characters felt. “No one would ever wanna read this. So why should I write it?” I attempted NaNoWriMo several more times, never breaking past 10,000 words nor attempting to write beyond the first week of November. My love for the craft was gone and I felt certain it was gone for good. He was right. Whatever “it” was, I didn’t have it.  

10 years later, I had no idea I’d be living through a pandemic and that my social life would screech to a grinding halt. I was losing brain cells vegging out in front of the TV and not doing anything intellectually stimulating. I started reading Stephen King’s Misery and in the words of his main character, a writer named Paul Sheldon, I asked myself: “Can you?” Can you complete NaNoWriMo now that you have no excuses? You’re supposed to be home anyway. There are no new Pokémon games out, no social obligations to distract you, and nothing else to do. No one ever has to read it! Can you at least try?  

And try I did. I committed to writing the most self-indulgent, most unpublishable novel in the world. Something just for me that no one else would ever see or even have to know about. The chains came loose and words began to pour out of me. I didn’t think I could ever write again after the pain I had associated with it from my college years, but once the pressure of it being good or publishable was no longer there, I found myself falling in love with it again, like reacquainting myself with an old friend.

“Can you write a novel in one month? Can you love writing again, even if it’s only for you? Can you?” I can, I did, I do, and maybe I don’t “got it,” but I have something so much better. I have a sense of accomplishment that no professor could ever give me. I did it because I liked it. I completed something I set my mind to, and I didn’t do it to make a point. I did it for me.

Final Thoughts
So, did you win NaNoWriMo this year? Better question: can you win NaNoWriMo this year? I don’t know if writing’s a win-or-lose sport. Maybe this year, in 2020, NaNoWriMo served another purpose. In the words of fantasy author Neil Gaiman:

"Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art.”

You did it. In the face of overwhelming hardship, when you were probably burnt out and tired and mentally calculating whether or not you could go home for Thanksgiving, you chose to make art, and that choice is a victory all on its own. (And yes, if your family asks how your novel’s going, you can tell them we said that. We’re librarians, right? We know.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Finish strong, and happy writing.
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 24, 2020 at 1:23 PM
  
Read It!

Family Book Club


Out of My Shell

"Out of My Shell" by Jenny Goebel is our Family Book Club pick for November!

Out of My Shell: Chapters 12-23
1. Olivia helped the sea turtle by smashing the pool's emergency light. Was this the right thing to do?
2. Now the turtle has made a nest, Olivia realizes the eggs are not safe. What does she try to do to protect them?
3. Since her barrier didn't work, what do you think she'll try next?
4. If you were in Olivia's shoes, what would YOU do?
5. She left the nest alone and the eggs hatched but some of the babies went the wrong way! Do you think calling the aquarium was a good idea?
6. Everything resolves itself well in the end and Lanie teaches Olivia to see a bit of hope in their situation. How did you like the book?

Copies of "Out of My Shell" are available at Tallyn's Reach Library and Jefferson County Public Libraries and unlimited eAudiobooks are available via hoopla digital - free with your library card!

Join Aurora Public Library and Jefferson County Public Library for a live Q&A with author Jenny Goebel on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. via Zoom! Register here.

Virtual Visit with Author
Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 23, 2020 at 2:11 PM
  
Create It!

Create It! Trick or Treat Boxes
by Karen

It's Make It Monday! This week, Karen shares a fun and easy DIY to make a festive doorhanger - perfect decor for fall!

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org  On Nov 23, 2020 at 9:00 AM
  
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