November is recognized, by a few, as National Novel Writing Month. Abbreviated NaNoWriMo. Nano, sounds like something a lot smaller than it really is, eh? What started more than 10 years ago as a handful of folks trying to take a crash-course in creative writing has turned into an international phenomenon of novel-out-churning! The goal is simple, but hardly easy: 30 days, 50,000 words. And a heckuvalotta coffee. I have 30 days, I have a lot of coffee... Why not me?
The odd thing about working in a bookstore... Is that I'm always on the reading end of a novel! Hundreds of them! Where do these books REALLY come from? How much time out of the day does a writer spend.. writing? I wanted to find out some of these answers for myself, to experience what it is like to write almost 200 pages in a month. What if my life DID depend on my next big hit? Can I focus on ANYTHING for that long? How do these serial novelists pump out one after another, and not go nuts? ARE they all nuts?
I have always enjoyed writing, though, motivation and inspiration are ever-elusive. I've started so many stories, and abandoned them, that my computer desktop is littered with 'new story this' and 'new story that.' Inspiration might be heaven-sent, but that doesn't mean you sit around waiting for it. That's no way to become a writer... So, puttering around one October day, I stumbled across NaNoWriMo. I discovered that dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people, just like me, had been attempting to bring their efforts together in a concerted attempt at creativity!
I took out pencil and paper and did a little math. 50,000 words in 30 days comes out to be... 1,667 words every day. That's quite a bit. About two or three single-spaced pages on your typical word processor. I stepped back and looked at it. It's not a contest, so there was nothing to win... Or was there? If I spent 30 days (and probably 30 nights too...) writing 1,667 words a day, what better practice could there be? A little kick in the seat of the pants might actually be enough to get a ball rolling from somewhere to elsewhere, so why not take the plunge? I signed myself up. Worth a try, at the least.
You know what else I found out? Sara Gruen does NaNoWriMo... and I heard that she wrote Water for Elephants in a month. Google is failing me now, but isn't that incredible? Apparently the jump from 'novella' to 'novel' is to go from 40K to 50K words... But, novel or not, this sure is fun.
As of today, I need to crest the 10,000 word mark and go beyond (I'm somewhere around 9,000, so I need to play catch-up!!). I only had a matter of days before November 1st to imagine where I'd begin, and then where I'd take it all... And boy, does my mind feel stretched! Now, I don't think anything I'll churn out could be anything all that amazing. There's even a disclaimer on the NaNoWriMo website, warning you not to be disappointed if you look back at your 'book' in December and feel mildly ill. It is quantity over quality, and no one should pretend otherwise. Not that one excludes the other. December happens to be National Novel Editing Month.
So, off I go, and if I look a little bleary-eyed in the store, now you'll know why! Maybe some day, I'll sell my OWN books at Kennebooks... Wouldn't it be nice to come full circle!