Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Novel Project

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.
Back in October of last year, I started to see the familiar reappearance of odd blog posts here and there about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  NaNoWriMo is a sort of collective insanity that overtakes many people every year in November.  The short version is that NaNoWriMo is a challenge to any writer to commit to writing fifty thousand words in one month.  There is a website and meet-up groups that go along with it, and it is generally a great atmosphere to let go of your inner critic and let your fingers go nuts on the computer keyboard.

I read a fair number of blogs, and every year I see frantic posts from those participating in this novel writing challenge.  At times the posts are intriguing; they are almost always amusing. Sometimes I’ve thought that these people were completely out of their gourds. It just seems like a bad idea, doesn’t it, to try and write an entire novel in 30 days? Each year, November would come and go, and I wouldn’t think too much about the shiny new “NaNoWriMo  Winner” buttons that would pop up on a few blogs.  That is, until last year.

Ever since I quit my job in 2007, my husband has been bugging me to get back to writing. Why I’ve fought this whole idea, well, that’s another post, but when I saw the first murmurings in the blogosphere about NaNoWriMo in October, something just clicked.  It was perfect, just the sort of insane gimmick I needed to get back into writing.  The emphasis is on volume, on doing, on creating a daily habit, and not so much on quality. There is no editing in NaNoWriMo. There is only endless, daily writing. I just felt something catch inside me, and I knew I should do it. So, I did.

I signed up on the website, so I could be all official in my participation, and I joined a forum where fellow local writers could share in the joy and pain of the experience and get support from others crazy enough to undertake the task.  I already knew what my novel would be about.  I’d been writing short stories and character sketches and running scenes in my head for years on this particular storyline: a fantasy tale set in an alternate world.  All systems go, I was ready for this. I was excited. I felt like I was part of something, and, even more important, I had a goal.

The goal was the key.  It was short term, just 30 days.  It was achievable; I didn’t have to write a great novel, just produce word volume. However, it was also a stretch because very few people will spit out the 1,666.6 words per day without flinching, without having a few come-to-Jesus moments, or without a little pain or tears.

When November 30th rolled around, I had finished the challenge. I produced my fifty thousand words. I finished something. I won my winner’s badge. It was exhilarating and just the boost I needed (or so it seemed at the time). In the end, I had written just over fifty-two thousand words and the first half of my first novel.

In December, I added another thirteen thousand words before taking a month long trip to visit family abroad, and that is where my troubles began. Again, another post, another time. As of right now, the total word count is 65,656, and I’m stuck in the middle.

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