There may not be another month of the year that quite compares to November. It’s the bitter end of the term, it’s dark all the time, winter is digging in its heels and between term papers and scrambling to finish assignments — there is a lot to keep track of.
Like us, November is heavy and lethargic — weighed down with strange challenges and strange events. It’s a quagmire of a month and it’s about time to unpack everything that has occurred.
So let’s take a look at a few of the things that have been shoe-horned into these 30 days.
Back in the summer of 1999, a strange writing project surfaced after a couple dozen people from California decided they wanted to write a novel. And if that wasn’t a challenge in itself, they decided to do it all in one month’s time.
After the trial run, the founder of this endeavour decided to move the challenge to the bleak month of November — where us writers, hitting stride in our seasonal depression, find the warmth of our laptops to be a comfort in trying times.
This national novel writing month is aptly condensed into a mouthful of an acronym known as NaNoWriMo — uttering it out loud is a bit like stuffing your face full of soda crackers and trying to speak. But each year, budding writers from all over the world try to bang out 50,000 words before the clock strikes midnight on Nov. 30. The winner: anyone who manages to hit word count gets bragging ‘writes’ — I mean rights — and not much else.
There have been a couple success stories out of the 20 long years of NaNoWriMo. In 2006, Sara Gruen published her novel Water for Elephants, an original NaNoWriMo creation. The book became a New York Times bestseller and a film adaptation featuring heavy hitters like Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz.
But over the past few years, NaNoWriMo has become kind of gimmicky. If you want to write the next great novel, then just do it. Sit down at your computer and pour your soul into it. Don’t wait for November and don’t write for the sake of hitting word count. Write because you love it. Write because you love the way words and sentences bring you satisfaction — rolling around in your brain like a smooth, polished stone.
NaNoWriMo isn’t the only challenge that beckons to us in November. For years, the month has been synonymous with moustaches and men’s health. Back in 2003, 30 dudes from Australia decided to grow a ‘stache. They didn’t raise any money that year, but they did garner attention.
The next November over 400 people joined the hair growing initiative, and this time they raised funds for prostate cancer awareness and research. From then on, the tradition blossomed — spanning the globe and raising both money and awareness for men’s physical and mental health. In the past 16 years, over five million people have participated and the movement has funded over 1,200 health projects.
Movember generates conversation that is often times hard to broach, but this year, there seems to be less talk circulating and less moustaches gracing once-baby-faced lips. Movember seems to have gone silent and has since been replaced with talk of another challenge that has been birthed from the dark, bleak void of the internet.
No Nut November busted onto the scene several years ago and has only gained momentum through memes since. This is a bizarre ritual where men forgo ejaculating for an entire month. That is one month of men avoiding an orgasm at all costs. No masturbation. No sex. No nuttin’.
It has people questioning if this is real or an elaborate hoax, like the Tide Pod challenge. Is it the male equivalent of a detox program? A way to reach enlightenment?
But there are whispers of a more insidious origin to the No Nut movement — talks of it being birth from misogynistic circle-jerk forums where everyone is just jacking off into the void. Whatever the case, No Nut November seems to perpetuate the stigma that there is something inherently wrong with masturbation, orgasms and the act of sex in general.
Perhaps people are participating in the trend because of some personal challenge or some holistic experiment. Perhaps no one is partaking in it at all. Either way, November is the time when people couple up. Throwing an abstinence challenge into the mix seems like an ill-timed move. But that’s none of my business.
Erin Matthews/ Opinions Editor
Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor