As I mentioned in my post Getting Started…Again my new writing adventure started rather suddenly and to agree to attempt something like Nanowrimo proved either my enthusiasm or my naïveté. Let’s be honest, it was both.
For those of you who are like September 1st Abbie was, and are saying to yourself, much as I did then, nano-what? Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and is the brain child of Chris Baty and is run by many dedicated people with the goal of supporting you through the challenge of writing 50 thousand words in a month. The origin story of this not-for-profit and the work that they do in schools, local communities and for emerging writers around the globe is quite fascinating. I encourage you to check them out at nanowrimo.org.
I remember coming home from work one evening in October and saying to my husband, “Professor K and I had a chat today and I think I am going to try to write a novel in November.”
He just kind of stared blankly at me waiting for the punchline, but when it did not come he said something like, “All right. What’s your novel going to be about?”
I ran down the premise I had roughly outlined in my mind and he patiently listened to every word. I was very excited and I spoke very quickly, using lots of gestures, and from what I can recall, I paced around the living room a little bit. Maybe a lot.
It was all really quite dramatic. On my end.
I suppose I should mention that my husband is a very detail-oriented person. He is not the type to be drawn into overly dramatic displays and so it was not a surprise that he waited me out, taking in what I was saying, and distilled my premise down to a sentence or two. It’s quite a skill and I am often both impressed and infuriated by it. And probably in equal measure.
He had some interesting questions for me. What was the time frame for the story? In what season does the story take place? How many main characters will the story have? Why this town and not that one? Random questions fired at me left and right. His nickname is Random, and he comes by the name honestly.
When I took a step back from the excitement for a moment I was able to process his questions. It gave me an opportunity to understand the concept from the reader’s perspective for the first time. I was thankful that I had yet to put pen to paper – or finger to keys because I was able to formulate the story in a more focused manner before Nanowrimo began.
I kept my work in progress (WIP) notebook by my side at all times. On my desk, in my bag, on my nightstand, on the coffee table. Wherever I was, it was there too. I never knew when I would need to add or delete some element of their lives. Tweaking their world was always within arms reach.
I learned everything there was to know about my characters. They lived inside my head, along with the rest of the characters I’ve created over the years. (I should start charging rent.)
I had just finished my submission to a major competition that closed October 31st – Professor K had kept me pretty busy with submissions and competitions up to that point – and I was then able to fully turn my mind toward the 1st of November and what I thought it was going to be all about.
I was excited, but I was also very nervous.
I began to second guess myself: What if this is too much for me?
What if I put all of this away all those years ago for a reason?
What if I fail?
With my brave face on, Professor K and I gave each other daily pep talks as we prepared to start this challenge. I know now that neither of us had a clue what it would entail when we started. Yay innocence!
I went on the website and set up a profile. I joined a local writing community and even thought of a title for my WIP. All that was left to do was to watch the time tick down to November 1st.
What was I doing???