That Chris Baty email in my inbox leaves no doubt–NaNoWriMo is almost here!
Each year the folks at NaNo take down the site for a week or so just before new signups, to clean up and clear out the forums. Then October is a steady run of everyone getting their engines ready to roll for November.
For those who haven’t heard, the name stands for National Novel Writing Month. This doesn’t just mean, as might be inferred, that we celebrate people who write novels for 30 days. It means that we get people to write novels IN 30 days. Yes. 30 days. 50,000 words. In 30 days.
It can be done. I entered for the first time last year, and actually wrote 68K on my story before it came to conclusion in that month. As reward, I was able to download an exciting certificate to put on my wall, and the little button there to the right in the sidebar. I was thrilled.
The story went on to be polished and In Search of the Lost Chord is sitting this minute in an agent’s office, at her request. She’s even sent me a contract. I’m not sure the relationship will go anywhere in the long run, but that’s still pretty exciting.
I’ve been ready to write again ever since last December 1. In the meantime, I penned another novel draft, an urban fantasy set in western Montana, because that story was ready to come out before the months had passed. I’ve kicked around a number of possibilities for topics, themes, and plots, and I think I have something I can work with.
The point of NaNo is not to write the Great American Novel–International Novel, actually, because people from all over the world participate–but to write a novel. To get the words down purposefully. It’s a fairly small commitment, 30 days, and inside those parameters, you have your own permission to write the book you’ve always felt was inside you. Maybe you discover you really don’t have it. At least now you know, and you can move on to other dreams to try them out. Or maybe, as I did last year, you can get your story on paper and send it out to find a home.
Even as the excitement grows, my writer friend’s words haunt me: It is fun to chunk the novels out, one after the other, but without commitment to the whole process, editing and sending them out, you’re no closer to publication than before you started writing. For the first time, that fundamental truth is finally starting to sink in.
So I’ve made a to-do list, reviewing five manuscripts I already have that are essentially salable in the current market. I’ve agreed with my NaNo-anxious self that before I can devote the energy to a new piece, that I will overhaul these and send out appropriate queries and copies to agents and editors. That, after all, is the bottom line for me, as I’ve said before: writing for others to read. I’ve begun already, one of my sci-fi novels taking on greater depth as I turn one of the characters a little evil. I like where it’s going. Four to go. I’m hoping that, just as NaNoWriMo spurs people to let that commitment drive them to completion, that my desire to hit that adrenaline shot in November will drive me to get my work out where it needs to be in the next six weeks. Wish me luck.
P.S. If you’d like to sign up for NaNo and need someone as part of your support team, add me to your list–I’m there as babs1e! I’d be glad to help cheer you on!