What do you call a group of novelists? A narrative of novelists? A nonsense? A nuance? A nebula?

A collective name would come in handy, seeing as there will be at least 23 people in the Whitehorse area simultaneously writing a novel during November.

The writers are all taking part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is known; 22 of them are students in two of Jerome Stueart’s creative writing classes and Stueart, himself, will be joining them for the challenge.

While there may well be other writers in the Yukon aiming to churn out a 50,000-word novel by midnight of Nov. 30, there will almost certainly be participants all over North America and around the world.

Last year, more than 100,000 writers took part in NaNoWriMo, with over 15,000 of them producing the required 50,000 words.

A well-known Yukon writer, Stueart says he decided to make NaNoWriMo part of his classes “as a way to push out a novel from students. It comes with its own parameters, rules, website. It seemed ideal for a novel-writing class.”

He adds: “I also thought that having more people involved – like the [Nakai] 24-hour playwriting contest – would help in the process. You can’t overrate encouragement and group drive.”

Laura Hutchinson, one of Stueart’s students, admits she had mixed feelings about the NaNoWriMo challenge.

“I had gone around the mulberry bush a few times about whether or not I was actually going to take this class, but then I guess I’ve been talking about it because a couple of important people in my life told me how pleased they were for me that I was finally doing this,” she explains.

“The other thing is, I turn 50 in January. When I asked myself what I’d like to give myself for a birthday present, my inner artist, who is closely related to my inner child, said: ‘Write a novel!’

“Other successful novelists have begun their careers at 50, and so am I!”

Fellow student Pamela Morrissey is equally committed to completing a novel: “I have a short story for nine to 12-year-olds that I’m developing now for the NaNoWriMo project. I’m very enthusiastic about it and look forward to actually writing.”

She says she thinks she’ll be able to write a first draft of a novel in a month as long as she writes every night after her 15-month-old son falls asleep.

“Being an unpublished writer is kind of like making pottery and not selling it,” Morrissey says. “You can eat your cereal out of your beautiful bowl and remember centering the clay. It has its own kind of satisfaction attached to it.

“One day soon, however, I plan on getting published, have someone else eat out of my cereal bowls. Someone other than my mom!”

For those writers who manage to produce a first draft, or for anyone with a draft novel gathering metaphorical dust inside their hard drive, Stueart is offering another class in January at Yukon College.

“So if you have a novel draft done – at any stage of drafting – come join us if you are ready to start receiving feedback and work on revision.”

To find out more about NaNoWriMo and sign up for the challenge, go to www.nanowrimo.org.

PHOTO: RICK MASSIE massierick@hotmail.com