So, John press-ganged me into posting about it, and so I figured, why not share my NaNoWriMo story. So I got into NaNoWriMo when I was in college. I was a marching band kid, and in a marching band sorority (as if the marching band alone wasn’t nerdy enough) and I wasn’t sure that on top of a heavy fall semester, practicing 16 hours a week, and you know, sleep and a social life, that I could find some way to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Because that’s the insanity of NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo, for short) is a writing ‘competition’ of sorts. It’s more of a collaborative writing party. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or roughly 1,667 a day. So there’s not a lot of time for things like… editing, grammar, or pretty much any sort of revisions. And that’s the point. A lot of first time writers stumble over the concept of just bloody finishing a novel. And that’s why it’s so awesome. At the end of the month, you stand there, sweating, panting, and tired, with a finished mess of a novel.
Personally, I have never thought about turning one of these monsters into a working novel—because John and I do so much writing and have a bunch of finished projects in the fire that need editing, I haven’t had the time to really think about blowing off one of these beasts. But multiple people have finished projects that have turned into publishable, successful, and even best-selling novels. And normally the organization has a few perks for those who finish. Including nifty shirts.
I think, for me, the best part about my NaNo journey is that it was a little… chaotic. Here are my projects from the past few years:
All’s the Same in Death
So, this was about The grim reaper (Angel of death, scythe and all) falling in love with a human. The twist is that A) the Grim Reaper has gone insane with the atrocities of the world and has started a rash of bloody murders (Don’t ask how this works, I’m not even sure myself). And B) the human he falls in love with is the primary detective assigned to uncover the serial killer behind said bloody murders. Also tied in was the full history of how the grim reaper went from the guardian angel charged with protecting Eden after Adam and Eve were kicked out to the skeletal be-scythed figure we know today. This one is ‘finished’ but only because I skipped most of a true second act.
Crooked Oak: A Ghost Story
This one came in at a staggering 250,000 words. I worked on it three different NaNos, one of them being a ‘double’ where I completed 100,000 in 30 days. (I kind of hated myself a little). I had a teaser up (that I still need to get around to finishing), but it’s about this group of kids that get pulled into the supernatural world and have to do some growing up and some fighting for their lives. No Big Deal.
Into the Stone
This was my last NaNo project, and the one I think has the most promise. This one is kind of a tongue-in-cheek look at the concept of a Labyrinth, and is told from the perspective of the denizens and maintainers of said labyrinth. (The main character is a gorgon who just wants to be left alone). I definitely want to revisit this one because I think it’s funny and cute.
So we’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year, and this time I’m actually revising a project. Because Camp NaNo allows you to be a little more flexible and a lot more laid back. I’m having a blast so far, even if it’s slow going.
Because NaNo is really about the fostering of imagination. While they no longer call themselves this, the foundation backing NaNo used to be called the Office of Letters and Light. I think that is what NaNo inspires in me. It inspires an ability to be unafraid of the dirty process of birthing a new story into the world. It sheds light on the process of making a finished product and then jumping right into the pool of creative ideas and finding another one.
It asks you to find that spark of imagination and bring that into every aspect of your life.
I think that everyone has this voice inside of them that is fighting to be expressed anyway it can. And while it might not be writing for everyone, this creative expression needs to be explored.
Just being able to talk about the concept of creativity in a world that is consistently trying to shut out artistic creativity in the hopes of capturing more scientific progress, especially for our children, is something groundbreaking.
That’s enough rambling from me for the moment.