December 1, 2011

Yay! I actually stuck it out for National Novel Writing Month! What a thrill to say that my November was spent churning out 60,000 words of utter dreck. But a book has to start somewhere, right?  :)

For those of you new to what is affectionately called NaNoWriMo, the goal is to challenge writers to produce 2,000 words a day during the entire month of November. This madness has been going on since 1999 and I am honored to say that I finally participated in the experience.

When I first blogged about NaNoWriMo back in October, I was pretty scared. But it was also inspiring to learn that countless novels and movie scripts have been successfully borne during this annual process. Now, I’m on my way too.

Of course, the work is in very, very rough shape. Some chapters are barely readable. But that’s to be expected. The mission was to simply get the feelings, scenes and ideas out of my head. Once they actually took shape on the page, I was in for some surprises:

  • My plan to write about Mom took me to unexpected places.
  • Stories about Dad finally came out of me. (He died when I was 19.)
  • I also ended up writing a lot about myself and the family dog.
  • Difficult ancient memories came out of nowhere but it felt healing.
  • I’ve become a faster blogger and editor of student homework.
  • During the rough spots, I turned to junk food and gained five pounds.
  • Going into this project without an outline actually worked in my favor.
  • This free-form experiment has me feeling more spontaneous in general.
Working at my desk

I’m not much of a boozer but during my writing marathon, I went through seven mini bottles of rum, scotch & vodka, plus tons of junk food. Meanwhile, the newspapers piled up unread. The house was dirty too. But at least I had the company of my two dozing editors. They liked hanging out near the space heater right by my desk. We were warm & cozy together.

The NaNoWriMo folks are so generous to offer their resources for free. To think — over the years, I’ve paid good money for creative writing courses without ever getting this much done! As a thank you, I just made a small donation to the organization, which is trying to raise money for a variety of writing programs geared towards young people. A worthy cause!

As for what’s next? Well, my immediate plans are to lose the five pounds and catch up on back issues of The New York Times. Of course, I must thank everyone who visited me on my Facebook page, where I bored you out of your skulls with my annoying daily updates about my progress.

And then, there’s the possibility of NaNoWriMo 2012. Some authors go back year after year. So I’m already thinking about going NaNo again. Maybe you’ll join me?