Tuesday, November 01, 2005

'Tis The Season For NaNoWriMo

And this year I’m not there.

Hoped to be. Wanted to be. Planned to be.

Alas, that’s the way it is when you’re trying to be a writer. Life intervenes a lot—which is the antithesis of National Novel Writing Month.

Beginning today, November 1st, wannabe writers (and some pubbed) from all over the globe embark on a 30-day journey of scribbling (okay, mostly typing) a 50,000-word (200-page) novel. The idea is to put everything aside (spouses, kids, parents, laundry, landscaping, personal hygiene if that’s what it takes...) and just write, write, write. The founder, Chris Baty, has a motto: No plot? No problem...in fact, he’s written a book with the title.

Anyway, my interpretation of the whole thing is this: there’s a ton of people out there (including some who read this blog) who have been meaning to get around to writing the great American novel—or memoir, or sci-fi fantasy. Whatever. Only, they don’t. Writing is the easiest thing in the world about which to procrastinate (I should know). And, it was NaNoWriMo that finally got me off the dime four years ago.

Not really knowing much about the craft of writing, I dove right in and, yes, completed a 50,000 word novel that month. Not only that, but I had a vacation planned for the fourth week in November, so I had to finish it in three weeks, not four. And I did. I forget—you do the math—but I wrote something like 10 pages a night. (Ouch--now that I’m a “better” writer, I can do about 2 a night but, oh well.) Still….about five months later, I thought: shoot, the stuff I wrote wasn’t so bad. Not long enough to be publishable, but maybe if I could add to it....

Well, the rest is history. That thought sent me on a journey that’s changed my life in a lot of ways--taken me to cities I’d never seen and brought me friends I would never have met. (Not to mention subtracted 100’s of hours of television viewing that wouldn’t have added a scintilla of worth to my life.)

So, I salute all the NaNo participants this year and wish them oodles of luck. Not everyone will “finish.” Not everyone will use it as a stepping stone toward a writing career (like Lani Diane Rich did with her NaNo Novel of a couple of years ago).

And to all those people sitting down to write their novel for the first time, welcome to a world you’ll learn to love to hate!

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